Following In Bruges was always going to be a tough gig for Martin McDonagh but Seven Psychopaths owes a lot to the success of its predecessor.
Had In Bruges failed to make an impact would we have seen the likes of Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell alongside the return of Colin Farrell?
Throwing the psycopath genre up in the air McDonagh has produced a highly entertaining black crime comedy that twists and turns throughout but with just the right amount of humour thrown in to dazzle the suspense at just the right moment.
Colin Farrell plays troubled screenwriter Marty, nursing a perpetual hangover induced by bourbon and his disapproving girlfriend. Struggling to string together his idea for a screenplay, titled the eponymous Seven Psycopaths, Marty wallows in his own, yet denied, state of “suicidal self-loathing”. Spurred on by his dog thieving friend Billy, played by Sam Rockwell, Marty becomes entangled in a comedy of psychopathic stories starting with a Shih Tzu and ending with a Rabbit.
In fact, there aren’t many films, if any, that use a Shih Tzu as the catalyst of ensuing carnage. Billy’s theft of Charlie Costello’s (introducing Woody Harrelson as Psychopath No. 3) beloved dog Bonny sets in motion Marty’s ‘Seven Psychopaths’ screenplay as each psychopath is introduced in turn.
#1. The Jack of Diamonds – #2. The Quaker – #3. Charlie Costello – #4. The Vietnamese Guy – #5. Maggie – #6. Zaccharia – #7. ???
When Marty is discussing his screenplay with Billy and Hans on their way out into the desert to escape the prying eyes of Costello’s hunt for Bonny Marty reveals his plan for the story. Upon revealing that this won’t be your ordinary psychopath story churned out by Hollywood because half way through the movie there won’t be any build-up to a final shootout, instead a quiet, and peaceful talk under the stars. Naturally the neurotic Billy Bickle disapproves of Marty’s pansy take on the psychopath genre. Lo and behold McDonagh does just this, sends the three protaganists out for a wee chat. Secluded in hiding from Costello, booze, and distractions the three men, Marty, Billy, and Hans set about completing the screenplay.
As the stories of the ‘Seven Psychopaths’ are drawn together in a satisfying bow a top the timebomb of fate the viewer is treated to a comedy of human emotion and self-realisation. Delivering on the expectation left in the wake of In Bruges McDonagh has produced seven more intriguing, at times, hyperviolent characters to feast our eyes on. Interspersed with flashbacks and violent tales we begin to see how Marty’s screenplay will take shape on the big screen.
The scene that I was sold on concerns a conversation between Hans and Marty. “Friends don’t let their friends die Hans.” – “Psychopathic friends do. You’re the one thought psychopaths were so interesting, but they’re kinda tiresome after a while, don’t you think?” Offering a sobering opinion on not just psychopaths but the entire psychopath genre McDonagh challenges how psychopaths are portrayed on the silver screen often taking defined conventions and sending them packing across the lonely desert with nothing but their genre defined limitations for company.
Following In Bruges Martin McDonagh has done a great job in developing his psychopath roster whilst ironically setting himself apart from the genre with Seven Psychopaths. In the hands of Tarantino Seven Psychopaths would have turned out distinctively different, but that’s what makes McDonagh’s achievement so intriguing. Although not a touch on In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths is Brilliant in its delivery and originality and promises great things for McDonagh to come, especially if he can summon such an impressive cast once again.
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