Every now and again you stumble upon a movie that didn’t receive much fanfare in the media or at the box office, but is still a gem of a flick. That happened to me recently with Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths”. I liked the film so much, it immediately jumped onto my list of all-time favorites. As a public service to you, I present the seven reasons why you should watch Seven Psychopaths.
7. The Writing
I have added Martin McDonagh to the list of screenwriters whose movies I will see no matter what. The story is original and the humor is brilliantly clever. What starts out seemingly as a slap-stick, gangster movie in the style of Guy Richie ends up being a well-crafted, introspective look at loyalty, priority, and virtue (with a whole lot of crazy stuff in between). If you appreciate excellence in screenwriting, you’ll like this movie.
6. The Plot
As I hinted to above, this movie keeps moving at a pace that’s rapid but not so fast it becomes confusing. The IMDB tagline reads, “A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu”, but that doesn’t nearly begin to explain what the story is about.
It’s about the aforementioned struggling screenwriter who gets an idea for a movie – called Seven Psychopaths – and begins to flesh out the story as incidents occur to him in real life. There’s a Tarantino-esque flavor to the way the sub-plots intertwine, the result being a delicious story that is both mesmerizing and satisfying.
5. The Sub-Plot: Zachariah and Maggie
If you’re a fan of the show Dexter – a serial killer with a code for taking out the bad guys – then you’ll thoroughly enjoy the plot detour that is the story of Zachariah and Maggie. Part love story, part bloody, revenge B-Film, the story of this young couple turned righteous vigilantes becomes itself a pivotal turning point in the film. Both characters are played brilliantly by Tom Waits and Amanda Warren, respectively, and they give the movie a refreshing new perspective right when you think the overall story is getting old.
4. The Sub-Plot: Hans and Myra
How do you play a game of telephone within a screenplay? You tell the story of a guy retelling the story that was previously told to him. This is just one component of the Hans and Myra sub-plot. The other is a loving and devoted husband caring for and invested in the well-being of his wife who is battling breast cancer. For as little screen time as Hans and Myra share, they do a great job in grabbing your emotional interest and making you feel their love, pain, fear, and horror. I found myself quickly attached to these characters, and that investment fueled my desire to see how the story is concluded at the end of the film.
3. The Acting
When you have an ensemble cast as you do in Seven Psychopaths, everyone seems to step up their game. That is definitely the case here as Woody Harrelson, Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Zeljko Ivanek – everybody, basically – brought the right amount of crazy and cartoonish appeal to their respective characters. You can definitely see how they fed off each during filming, as if no one wanted to be the weak link of the cast. The end result is an almost dizzying display of acting and on-screen presence.
2. ….More specifically, Christopher Walken’s Acting
Speaking of on-screen presence, Christopher Walken is simply brilliant in this movie. From lovable con-man to adoring husband to mysterious acquaintance to loyal friend to enlightened human being; Walken plays an assortment of different characters all wrapped into one. His line delivery is classic Walken, and he makes funny dialogue that much funnier. I remember how much I loved his cameo in Pulp Fiction and the intensity he delivered in True Romance. In Psychopaths, Walken culminates the spirit of those characters into this singular being that will have you cheering, crying, and thinking once it’s all said and done.
1. The Ending(s)
Seven Psychopaths does have one final ending, but not before it teases you with a handful of others. The brilliance of the movie is that once you think it’s over – or, better yet, nearly over – there’s a new direction in the film. It’s not so much a plot twist as it is an evolution in the storyline, a progression in which McDonagh builds on previous aspects and sub-plots to deliver one conclusive story. Each step does not make sense without the background previously provided, but the fact each step is so different is what makes the movie so mesmerizing and appealing.
If you were walking by a bin of DVD’s labeled “Underrated Awesomeness”, you’d definitely find copies of Seven Psychopaths available. This is a fun movie that will draw you in, keep you guessing at times, and definitely leave you with that warm-fuzzy feeling of, “Hmmmm. That’s not what I was expecting.”
It’s pretty cool when brilliance just sneaks up on you like that.