Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Seven Psychopaths


Christopher Walken is one of the living legends of Hollywood at this point.  He continues to play the quirky eccentric hit man role perfectly as he rides off into the twilight of his career.  His latest strong and humorous performance helps power the delightfully witty and violent Seven Psychopaths, directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).  Chock-full of A-List talent with strong performances by Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell and Tom Waits, this film chugs along with over-the-top bravado and Pulp Fiction style dialogue.

The movie chronicles the plight of struggling screenwriter Marty (Farrell) who is penning an original screenplay (also titled Seven Psychopaths).  He is looking for some real-life inspiration for the psychopaths and finds it primarily in his friend Billy (Rockwell) who is absolutely bat-shit crazy.  Billy has teamed up with his associate Hans (Walken) in a dog-napping small-time crime ring.  Unfortunately for the two con-men and Marty, they cross paths with a big-time hit man Charlie (Harrelson).  The three leads spend the rest of the film in a cat and mouse game of deception and violence with Charlie that sprawls beautifully across the wide open desert plains of California.

McDonagh once again brings an overall touch of wit and humor to blend with some sadistic violence as we get a chance to see all angles of each of these interesting characters.  Farrell, whom I normally dismiss as a quality actor, is actually really likeable and engaging here.  He delivers a far stronger performance than his bore-fest in Total Recall earlier this year.  Harrelson is hilarious as the outlandish and determined hit man.  His final scene with Rockwell's character is incredible.  Walken is Walken and we get about a good dozen instant-classic Walken lines in this film.  He could read the phonebook and make it sound unique and interesting.  The real star of this movie, however, is the vastly underrated Sam Rockwell.  His portrayal of Billy is a joy to watch as he goes from a weird/annoying friend of Marty's to a raving lunatic psychopath by movie's end.  All-along he delivers his own brand of crazy-bordering-on-genius sense of humor.  Rockwell is shot out of a cannon in this film and makes you wonder how this guy hasn't won an Oscar.  His time will come, I'm sure of it.

Some of the "psychopaths" in the film including the lovely Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko seem to be a little forced and don't quite fit in with the overall film.  Tom Waits' bunny-stroking maniac is strong but also a bit out of place.  If the movie focused more on the key foursome of Harrelson, Farrell, Rockwell and Walken it would have been a little stronger.  Overall this is a vastly entertaining movie and if you are at all a fan of In Bruges or Tarantino-style filmmaking then you will thoroughly enjoy Seven Psychopaths.  McDonagh used violence and the open spaces of the American West to paint a very satisfying picture. A strong 4 out of 5 JRs for this film.

NOTE:  I saw this film at the new Angelika Film Center Mosaic Cinemas which just opened a mile from my office.  This is a brand-new upscale theater near Dunn Loring Metro that has a full high-end cafe and bar.  I enjoyed a beer in my seat while watching the movie.  I highly recommend checking this new cinema out if you live in the area.