There are times when you see a film poster with an all star cast lining the top and you wonder how they got all of these people in this movie. All these A-Listers wanted to be a part of this movie? It’s got to be at least decent, right? Sometimes, it works, like Oceans Eleven. Sometimes it doesn’t, like Batman and Robin. When studios line up their top-of-the-hill gang at the peak of their careers, it can sometime be a little suspect.
This was not the impression I got from this movie – Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson were the big names that jumped out at me. Not exactly men at the height of their careers, but certainly great actors in their own right. I was able to catch an advanced screening of the film, and I thought I might be in for a shlocky, B-film (which can be fun) but my overall expectations were low. I was completely and utterly wrong. Let’s take a look at Seven Psychopaths.
The film begins with two gangsters getting shot in the head by a masked vigilante, before we cut away see Marty, played by Colin Farrell, a drunkard film writer trying to write a film called Seven Psychopaths. Yes, this film was written by a guy named Martin, and yes, the entire film is incredibly meta, but that’s entirely besides the point. His friend, Billy, played by Sam Rockwell helps Hans, played by Christopher Walken, to kidnap dogs in order to get reward money that is used to help pay for Han’s wife and her cancer treatment. They accidentally kidnap the Shih Tzu of a obsessive mob boss and from there, it’s all out Hell..or is it?
I don’t think that in the year or so I’ve been writing for Moar Powah, I’ve never used the following phrase to describe any movie – strangely beautiful. In essence it’s a dark comedy. For the uninitiated, a dark comedy is a film that employs an incredibly dark and morbid sense of humor. And even though my own humor is much like this, I tend to find I don’t like the genre very much. I can’t stomach Dr. Strangelove or Welcome to the Doll House - they just leave me confused and upset even though I can understand where the appeal comes from. This film is a dark comedy more in the vein of Kick Ass, with extreme violence and gore, but is also a lot more unsettling through the use of some pretty unstable characters and unexpected twists. And I loved every minute of it – the unease, the random violence, the dark fatalistic humor, all of it was great. The ending to the film, which I will not spoil as it would be a disservice to you all, is beautiful – there’s no other way to describe it.
The cast as a whole is incredible, not just the main four characters but everyone in the film. Linda Bright Clay, who has way more screen time than any of the two female characters who get top billing, does a huge amount with her character in what amounts to no time at all. There’s a Gabourey Sidibe cameo, and all the mobster goons are surprisingly well cast. There’s a special dream sequence bit which has some of the best, most heart-wrenching acting I’ve ever seen, but I can’t ruin it for you. Hell, Tom Waits manages to take a 15 minute part and make himself the most freaky, disturbing person in the movie.
I was the least impressed by Woody Harrelson cause he just seems to be playing a character they would cast him to play. Colin Farrell as the straight-man took a little getting used to but it was definitely a smart move by the casting director. Christopher Walken is just amazing in this movie, combing his weird quirkiness with depth and passion and he quickly became my favorite character. Sam Rockwell was insane and, literally, he manages to hijack the entire movie on his own by acting like he’s the one in control of the movie. He basically plays the guy we all went to high school with who we always knew was a little crazy but were just too damn intrigued to be deterred by the former. Even if Walken was my personal favorite, there’s no denying that this is Rockwell’s movie, and he owns it.
As for cinematography, this film looks very clean and pretty when it wants to, but some of the scenes lack a little composition and can feel unnecessarily empty or flat. The story flashbacks are done artistfully, and really tie in this short of mystical-other-worldly feel to the film, which I thought was pure genius. Considering this is one of those films that was on the down-low in terms of advertising, I was expecting to look more like an independent film (which is NOT a derogatory term) but it is incredibly clean shot and edited. It’s both a credit, and a downfall for this type of gritty movie but at least it wasn’t straight up filmed on a iphone like Cloverfield seemed to be.
In the end, Seven Psychopaths is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing film that somehow manages to smash several opposing elements together and makes it work like a well oiled machine. If it’s playing in your area, you owe it to yourself to get to the theater and see it. You will not be disappointed.
–Might not be for everyone
–Left some unanswered questions