Seven Psychopaths, the newest film from the must-be dark and twisted mind of writer-director Martin McDonagh, starts out with a bang. A few of them, really.
This darkly comic, supremely violent, meta-film film stars Colin Farrell as Marty, a screenwriter struggling with ideas for his next screenplay, Seven Psychopaths. His friend Billy, played nicely by the always underrated Sam Rockwell, suggests he look to real-life psychopaths to inspire him--a suggestion that proves more fruitful than he originally imagined.
Billy, meanwhile, is getting over his head in his own "business" ventures. He and his partner-in-crime, played by Christopher Walken, kidnap dogs and collect the eventual reward money. When they kidnap the wrong shih tzu, they find criminal boss and violent psychopath (!) Woody Harrelson on their tails.
McDonagh, who previously worked with Farrell on In Bruges, is not afraid to play around with tone. Some of the film's most grotesque violence also provides its biggest laughs, while the aftermath leads to some of its most heartfelt (and heart-wrenching) moments. Farrell's in-film screenplay, meanwhile, allows the characters themselves to comment on what's going on around them--the tropes and expectations of film and storytelling. It's remniscent of films like Adaptation and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, admittedly two of my favorite films. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to those comparisons (nor to In Bruges, for that matter).
Movie-goers who are turned away by excessive violence (even when that violence is used for a point) should probably avoid Seven Psychopaths. Ideally, its title and decidedly earned "R" rating will be enough to keep those viewers away already, but one never knows.
Similarly, if dark, meta, or dark-meta humor is not your thing, this film is not for you. Seven Psychopaths doesn't pretend to be for everyone, but while it doesn't hit the heights of McDonagh's other film and theater work, it is uproariously funny and generally entertaining.