Writer and director Martin McDonagh returns to the big screen after a brief hiatus with Seven Psychopaths, a crime comedy with a sly agenda and more than seven oddball nut jobs that make the film a breeze to watch and something worth revisiting over and over. Seven Psychopaths is much more Pulp Fiction than it is a film about seven psychos committing murder, but that isn’t to say it’s without blood or violence.
The film follows struggling Hollywood writer Marty (Colin Farrell) as he attempts to piece together his next story. He gets an idea from his best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) to write it about seven psychopaths and thanks to Marty’s drinking and Billy’s crazy lifestyle the two manage to take what started out as a simple story on a piece of paper to a real life experience that involves a dog-snatching friend (Christopher Walken), a gangster looking for his dog (Woody Harrelson) and a whole lot of crazed psychopaths looking to tell their story to anyone willing to listen.
Director Martin McDonagh approaches Seven Psychopaths much like he approached his last film, In Bruges. By that I mean it’s darkly clever and at times a complete riot. Seven Psychopaths is a lot easier to digest, because In Bruges works as a good stew, brewing until just right, whereas Seven Psychopaths comes exploding off the screen, firing left and right until it eventually hits your funny bone. Some might be turned off by the self-aware humor, but I found its pokes on the genre and the state of filmmaking to be a breath of fresh air, very much like what Tarantino has done over the years.
I must warn you though. If you’re expecting an actual shoot ‘em up film about seven psychotic killers than you might want to skip this one, because while it does have shootouts and bloody kills, it’s mostly a comedy that builds up its laughs for maximum enjoyment.
The best things about the film, aside from McDonagh’s steady direction and unpredictable writing, are the performances. Colin Farrell finally gets to use his real accent and while doing so gives off a performance that feels authentic and makes for lots of laughs at his character’s expense. Farrell’s a good sport though and he takes the character of Marty and injects him with a certain amount of stubborn drunkenness that makes him a blast to be around.
Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken come in as a dead tie for second best performance. Rockwell’s Billy is zany and out there, but innocent and completely oblivious. While Walken’s Hans is slightly unsteady, but the one you can relate to the most, if relate is even the right word. Everyone is basically nuts, but they’ve all got their soft spots and McDonagh knows just how to mine those elements from his ensemble of gifted performers.
Seven Psychopaths is a lot smarter than it looks, with layers of fun to be discovered if you’re fully committed to exploring the film’s various themes. I had an absolute blast watching it the first time around, yet I think my second and third viewings are what launched it up to be one of the most unique and funny films of 2012.
This film looks gorgeous on Blu-Ray, simply gorgeous. Sony’s 1080p video transfer is flawless, with not an imperfect scene in sight. Everything about this transfer is film-like and detailed, with the warmth of the desert-setting scenes coming to life with color and clarity. Skin tones and textures are always striking and always providing layer upon layer of detail. Woah.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a real winner too. It’s got an incredible amount of balance for a track that can only be described as all-over-the-place. Dialogue is easily understood through the front channels while gunfire and whatever other odd sounds (dogs, bunnies and a million other things) come through the back channels with range and depth.
Here’s a list of bonus material found on the disc:
- Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths (HD)
- Colin Farrell is Marty (HD)
- Woody Harrelson is Charlie (HD)
- Crazy Locations (HD)
- Seven Psychocats (HD)
- Layers (HD)
- Previews (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
The biggest disappointment with this disc is the lack of real bonus material. Sony has collected a number of throwaway features that amount to nothing more than a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Admittedly the Psychocats trailer made me giggle, but I’m an easy laugh.
The film itself is worthy of a purchase, even though the bonus material doesn’t add up. The picture transfer is one of Sony’s finest yet and the audio track follows closely behind. I’d say the inclusion of a digital copy makes it an easy win, because taking this film with you is a must, so you can expose all of your friends to one of the better comedies of 2012.
Seven Psychopaths is Martin McDonagh reacting to some of the genre stereotypes in a humorous way, while adding his own clever (and always witty) dialogue along to kick things up to the next level. He gets the best performances out of Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken that we’ve seen in a long time and I can’t imagine that being an easy task. I recommend this title without hesitation for those in the mood for a self-aware piece of comedy that isn’t afraid to splatter brains or cut throats in the process.