Seven Psychopaths is Martin McDonagh’s first film since his wonderful In Bruges with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Just like that film, McDonagh both wrote and directed and it shows with the same witty and quick-paced dialogue and the absurd violence in the face of humor. The comparison to Quentin Tarantino is unavoidable and yet in this morning’s Times Magazine Mc Donagh denies the comparison and while respectful of Pulp Fiction, seems to eschew the similarity of the violence Tarantino uses and that which he uses. I actually send to agree with him. The violence is almost incidental and does not overwhelm. In fact, some mighty scary characters like Woody Harrelson come off as quite human and not at all like disturbing psychopaths.
Indeed, in keeping with the title, everyone in this film except Farrell is pretty much a psychopath. Sam Rockwell is amazing and is actually likable even as he unexpectedly shoots an innocent woman in the stomach with no remorse whatsoever. Christopher Walken can make any movie just with a sideways glance or a halting phrase. Here he provides a moment of calm and an attitude of peace that gives turning the other cheek a whole new meaning. The trio of Walken, Rockwell and Farrell is wonderfully effective. What might have been a confusing and complicated plot that layers time and space ends up being funny and exciting.
McDonagh has the soul of a hedge fund manager. He seems to understand the value of scarcity and seems unphased by differentiation. In fact, he seems the quintessential contrarian. His humor, his style and even his choice of heroes and themes are all completely contrarian. And it works so well.