By Forrest Hartman
3½ stars (out of four)
Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and on demand
In 2008, writer-director Martin McDonagh teamed with actor Colin Farrell for In Bruges, one of the best movies of the year. With the rollicking dark comedy, Seven Psychopaths, they’ve proven that lightning can indeed strike twice.
The film focuses on Marty (Farrell), a Hollywood screenwriter struggling to finish his latest project, a story about seven characters with psychopathic tendencies. Marty’s best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), is desperate to help with the creative process, and he provides inspiration with his unorthodox lifestyle.
An unemployed actor, Billy pays his rent by kidnapping dogs, then collecting rewards from their wealthy owners. This venture goes south when he and his partner, Hans (Christopher Walken), steal the beloved Shih Tzu of an unstable gangster (Woody Harrelson). When Marty is mistakenly implicated in the kidnapping, he, Billy and Hans retreat to the desert in hopes of eluding the increasingly hostile bad guy.
McDonagh’s script is so layered, complex and crammed with great characters that it easily ranks among the best of 2012, but it’s not just the screenplay that’s outstanding. With Farrell, Walken and Rockwell leading the way, McDonagh brings his pages to life, delivering a brisk tale that is hilarious despite the many violent acts depicted on screen.
In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths share many similarities, including the fact that both films find humor in the macabre. The movies are also noteworthy for their ability to insert thought-provoking notions into the sort of bloody, action-packed sequences that are normally found only in guilty pleasures. Because of this, Seven Psychopaths provides plenty of pleasure, but none of the guilt.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include six featurettes on the making of the film.