It’s taken Martin McDonagh four years to follow up hit movie In Bruges (2008). Maybe the success of that movie took him by surprise as well. Perhaps he was honing his craft. Whatever the reason it’s good to have him back. In Bruges was a darkly comic, offbeat crime caper and Seven Psychopaths walks the same path, but this time he brings with him a larger ensemble to play with.
Colin Farrell returns as Marty, a struggling screenwriter forced to go head to head with the undesirables of the Los Angeles underworld. The ever-impressive Sam Rockwell leads an all-star cast that sees Marty involved in an ill-advised dognapping scheme. Sam’s Billy Bickle steals a Shih Tzu from a sadistic criminal kingpin played by Woody Harrelson, and just to ensure we have enough scene-stealing talent on the screen at all times, Christopher Walken turns up as religious man Hans Kieslowski.
Seven Psychopaths is a brilliantly written, superbly acted crime fantasy, but at times it feels too self-assured, and nobody likes a smart ass. In Bruges was more restrained and all the better for it, but with Seven Psychopaths, McDonagh really goes to town on the self awareness shtick and the overbearing smugness starts to grate after a while. It’s hard to invest in a group of characters so cartoony, all too aware that they’re starring in a movie about starring in a cliché-ridden genre movie.
Thankfully the acting talent distracts from any lack of depth and star power ensures you’ll have a good time, even if it is a disengaging one. There’s a lot to love about McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges but it lacks the heart and depth of its predecessor. Top performances and an endless supply of quotable dialogue keep things moving, but there’s no denying Seven Psychopaths stands in the shadow of its soulful sibling. AW