Movie review: Seven Psychopaths
It's been four truly long years since Irish writer/director Martin McDonagh released the highly original and wholly entertaining In Bruges. It was embraced by all those that saw due to a sharply written script and larger than life characters, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Well the wait is finally over, as McDonagh presents his latest film; it may be set on a different continent, but everything that made his debut so watchable are clearly present in this one too.
Marty (Farrell) is an Irish writer struggling with his screenplay in LA. He has a title Seven Psychopaths, but that's about it. His friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) offers to help him with the screenplay, but Marty, initially at least, turns him down.
Meanwhile Billy finds himself helping out a friend in the dog "borrowing" business, which is as suspicious as it sounds. The business takes a wrong turn when one of the dogs that they borrow, belongs to violent gang boss Charlie (Woody Harrelson).
To make matters worse, the line between Marty's real life and the fictional world of violence he's created with his killer psychopaths soon begins to blur.
Just as he did with In Bruges, McDonagh has once again brought an intriguing world to life with some fascinating characters.
The film is constantly throwing out surprises with a script that has the ingenious ability to keep an audience on its toes. It doesn't make it easy by any means, with elements that at first appear to be unconnected, suddenly be sharply brought to the fore and make perfect sense.
On occasion the film's pace slows right down, as if to stand in a corner and have a quiet word with itself under its breath as if to determine what happens next.
Luckily enough, during these fairly infrequent lulls, there's a superb macho cast, that includes Harry Dean Stanton, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits and a small Boardwalk Empire reunion for Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg to hold your attention fully. Walken in particular still has a charming acting twinkle in his eye that is difficult to ignore and pretty much steals the whole shebang.
Maybe it's the fact that his second feature is shot in the US that gives it a strong flavour of early Tarantino; this would certainly make a great double bill with his Reservoir Dogs, that's for sure, sharing similar themes as well as a predominantly male cast made up of top class talent.
Although it's a little over-written in places, it doesn't detract from the overall thrill of it all. The script is written with an intelligent, mature audience in mind, which is refreshing considering how often they're overlooked. He also gives new meaning to the phrase 'dead funny'.
McDonagh may have taken his sweet time with his second feature, but it was oh-so worth the wait. The only possible thing to overshadow his accomplishments here is the fact that it is only his second film and that there's so much more to come from one of this generation's most important writer/directors.