“Yeah, I'm sick of all these stereotypical Hollywood murderer scumbag type psychopath movies. I don't want it to be one more film about guys with guns in their hands. I want it... overall... to be about love... and peace. But it still has to be about these seven psychopaths, so this Buddhist psychopath, he... he doesn't believe in violence. I don't know what the f**k he's going to do in the movie.”
Here’s what I wrote about this title in my original theatrical review:
“I have no idea what to make of Seven Psychopaths. I’m of multiple minds on it, torn in two between adoration and disappointment. The movie is funny, magnificently so at times, writer/director Martin McDonagh following up his near instantly classic In Bruges with some of the more ghoulishly hysterical dialogue and situations fans of coal black comedies are sure to delight in. But the point? The story? In all honesty there truly isn’t one, the filmmaker’s satire of Hollywood, celebrity, violence and friendship more a series of loosely connected vignettes than it is anything even close to substantive.
At its heart, it is the story screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) whose latest script is a disheveled work-in-progress where only the title and a singular psychopath exists the rest, including the remaining six protagonists, barely a figment of the author’s stagnant imagination. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) has plenty of ideas for more psychopaths and he’s eager to help his friend, even placing an ad in a trade magazine asking actual psychopaths for their personal stories. He also moonlights as a professional dog napper, working with his older colleague Hans (Christopher Walken) to fleece unsuspecting high-priced pooch owners of their reward cash.
The pair’s latest target, however, is one they probably wish they’d never focused on. They’ve stolen the Shih Tzu of a notorious Los Angeles gangster (Woody Harrelson) and he’s not exactly happy or content to let things work themselves out on their own. Instead, he wants vengeance, not caring for a second whether or not the flabbergasted Marty was in on the scam as his main goal, other than retrieving his prized pooch, is to see all three men riddled with bullet holes.
The thing is, as written, this story barely takes up a third of the movie’s 109-minute running time. The rest is filled with various side stories engineered to help fill Marty’s floundering screenplay. Most of them are fine for what they are, oftentimes extremely funny and perverse in all the ways that matter. But the lose nature of the proceedings, the way almost all of it feels disconnected one scene to the next, all of it makes for a relatively crazy viewing experience that’s oftentimes deeply unsatisfying, the film never achieving any sort of consistency that could allow it to resonate on a deeper level.
Still, it is funny, and there were numerous occasion I laughed out loud in somewhat shocked glee. McDonagh has a flair for going in one unexpected direction after another, hoisting upon the screen image after image of shocking originality that’s one part Coen, two parts Mad Magazine and three parts insidiously inspired flowing directly from the filmmaker’s own flippantly surreal brainpan. There were numerous moments I never saw coming, and while I’m sure plenty will want to make comparisons to Pulp Fiction or Snatch the reality is that the director has managed to come up with scenario after scenario uniquely all his own.
I just wish all this inspiration was in service of a greater narrative, that it propelled the story forward in a manner more appealing than the one on display here. Sure a great little bunny-centric short featuring Tom Waits had me ghoulishly giggling but that doesn’t mean it helped the actual movie in any discernible way. It’s like McDonagh wanted to craft a motion picture made up of 20 minute anthologies, forgetting that by doing so he was robbing his main character of attributes that would make him compelling and worthy of emotional investment in the process.
All that being said, there’s no way I can come down on Seven Psychopaths all that hard McDonagh’s dialogue is as richly layered and juicily dynamic as ever, and he’s given Rockwell a plum part of whimsically sadistic madness he plays with idiosyncratic inventiveness. Better, he’s given Walken one of his best roles in years, the veteran actor allowed to mine depths and emotions that I found continually spellbinding. Around the midpoint he shares a scene with Harrelson in a hospital lobby that’s as magnificent as any single sequence I’ve seen in all of 2012, his smile alone enough crush my heart and bring a tear to my eye and all things being equal I’d give him the Supporting Actor Oscar if I could right this very second.
It won’t happen, of course, the movie to darkly disturbing and structurally uneven to register on Oscar’s radar anytime soon. There’s also the matter that the female characters, played by the likes of Abbie Cornish, Gabourey Sidibe and Olga Kurylenko, are all secondary afterthoughts, and even though McDonagh has one of his protagonists comment on that fact that doesn’t make the reality of it being so any less annoying.
Which brings me back to how I started this review, my psyche still a bit shattered as to how I truly feel about the finished product. McDonagh does some great things here, gifting Walken such a superb part just one of the many attributes he managed to grant his sophomore effort. But as funny as it is, as inspired as some of the grotesque pitch-black carnage can be, there’s something left to be desired by Seven Psychopaths, the movie as a whole feeling decidedly unfinished and badly in need of an additional rewrite.”
I’m still on the fence with Seven Psychopaths, but it should be said the stuff I liked and/or loved when I saw it in the theatre I felt even more strongly about watching it again at home. More than that, I truly do wish Walken could have gotten himself into the Supporting Actor Academy Award conversation, his performance a quiet stunner that gets richer and more rewarding the more I think about it.
Seven Psychopaths is presented on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video with a 2.40:1/1080p transfer.
This Blu-ray features an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack and features optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Extras here include:
· Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths (2:31)
· Colin Farrell is Marty (1:25)
· Woody Harrelson is Charlie (1:24)
· Crazy Locations (2:09)
· Seven Psychocats (1:31)
· Layers (1:05)
The less said about these extras the better, as almost all of them border on worthless (or, even worse, pointless). The exception? The bizarrely amusing Seven Psychocats, a reworking of the film’s theatrical trailer made with actual cats standing in for the actors. Priceless.
Seven Psychopaths worked for me a heck of a lot better the second time around, that I cannot deny. At the same time, I still have the same problems with the movie itself, its disjointed and unfocused nature still grating on me. Special features notwithstanding, Sony’s Blu-ray presentation is still pretty close to perfect, and for fans picking up this disc is a relative no-brainer.