‘Seven Psychopaths’ Review: Funny as Shih Tzu

katieholland October 15, 2012 0
‘Seven Psychopaths’ Review: Funny as Shih Tzu
  • Killer Cast
  • Interesting Sequence
  • Great Cinematography
  • Wierdly Serious
  • A Little Boring
Director: Martin McDonagh
Producer(s): Martin McDonagh, Tessa Ross
Actors: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cinematographer: Ben Davis
Music: Carter Burwell
Editor: Lisa Gunning




While featuring an enigmatic cast and a truly original storyline, Seven Psychopaths’ delivery was not strong enough to be considered a great film or remembered as such. I yearned for more from the plot and instead was given monologue after monologue, which the actors delivered beautifully, but I craved for more. Just when you think things were about to heat up, we were left with just a few moments of violence and one lackluster “final shootout.” While the film’s intensity was quite low, there were a lot of great elements that transformed Seven Psychopaths from the movie advertised to the movie we actually receive in theaters.

The Storyline

Billy (Sam Rockwell) and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) are in the prestigious business of dognapping, but only long enough to receive a cash reward from the pet owners when they return the helpless pooches. Everything was going (questionably) great until Billy happens to take the wrong dog from the park, Charlie’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved shih tzu named Bonnie. This sets Charlie off into a killing spree, which doesn’t end until the dognapper is identified.

Meanwhile, Marty (Colin Farrell), a struggling writer, suffers from a case of writer’s block as he cannot think of seven different people to write about for his novel titled Seven Psychopaths. He then decides to enlists the aid of his friend Billy to come up with more ideas. While collaborating, Marty gets pulled into the dognapping world but soon realizes he might be in a little too deep.

The Good

One Killer Cast

With a cast including several of comedy’s biggest names, I went into this expecting greatness and they did not disappoint. Each actor created an extremely likable character that you’ll want to learn more about.

Sam Rockwell is brilliant as Billy, the quirky guy that never gets enough credit. His slight aversion to the minor details makes him all the more hilarious. He also plays off of Christopher Walken well. Walken plays a straight shooter whose story gets more and more interesting as the plot develops.

There’s no words for Woody Harrelson’s performance as Charlie, the villain who just wants his dog back. You’ll love him even though he’s the “bad guy” (although there isn’t a clear antagonist).

Colin Farrell portraying an alcoholic Irishman isn’t too much of a stretch. I’ve certainly seen him in more impressive roles, but he is sort of endearing as the drunken playwright.

It’s All in the Sequencing

Director and writer Martin McDonagh utilized a great technique that you don’t see too often in cinema. McDonagh incoporates a lot of dream sequences as our main character Marty learns more about each person he meets. The repeated scenes only slightly different due to new information. McDonagh truly captured the essence of a psychopath by explaining each person’s involvement with the main plot and incorporating each sub plot into the ending, which is a key aspect of filmmaking in my eyes.

Great Cinematography

Using many different locations throughout the Los Angeles area, cinematographer Ben Davis had his work cut out for him as he needed to evoke the psychopaths’ feelings — a technique used to place us further into their world. Instead of the over-the-shoulder shots, Davis panned the camera between the characters during a conversation, which created an anticipation for what’s to happen next. Considering there’s a lot of dialogue and very few action shots, the cinematography needed to establish a sense of urgency, which I think Davis did quite well.

The Bad

Why So Serious?

At times the music and the monologues did not connect with the tone of the film; the characters went on in long, depressing rants, and the music was, at times, too dramatic, completely changing the pace.

At first, the melodrama appeared to be McDonagh’s way of getting us into a psychopath mindset , but after the fifth emotion-filled monologue I was over it. If McDonagh didn’t lay the heart-wrenching music over such dramatic speeches perhaps it might not have seemed out of place. But the serious tone certainly felt strange amidst some of the other topics.

A Little Boring

According to the trailer, Seven Psychopaths was going to be a high stakes, action packed, killing free for all. I was sorely mistaken as the film was more about an account of violence as opposed to the actual violence. Opting to talk about shooting than featuring actual shooting, the film was more about sympathy rather than vengeance, which transformed what appeared to be a violent blockbuster into almost an art/indie film.

Not to ruin anything, but if you’ve seen the extended trailer you’ve seen just about all the action this movie has to offer. Your expectations are altered as the twist and turns unfold, but you’ll still feel a little cheated out of some blood and gore.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Although Seven Psychopaths wasn’t quite what we were expecting, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend checking this one out. Any fan of Walken’s quiet humor, or Harrelson’s over-the-top behavior will certainly enjoy this.

‘Seven Psychopaths’ Trailer