In 2008, Martin McDonagh released In Bruges. It was the tale of two hitmen, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, hiding out in Bruges, waiting for orders from their boss, Harry, played by Ralph Fiennes. The film was very highly received, and won a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. It had a limited release in the US, but still managed to gross $33 million on a $15 million budget worldwide. McDonagh’s next film, entitled Seven Psychopaths, had a much larger US release, complete with TV spots and big, expensive advertising, however, the gross was low, with them failing to recover the $15 million budget in the US market. The reception has been good, overall, with praise going to the writing, acting etc. But is Seven Psychopaths as good as In Bruges?
Marty (Colin Farrell) is an Irish screenwriter who is suffering from writer’s block and can’t finish his screenplay, Seven Psychopaths. His best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), offers him some inspiration and invites him to come along to their dog-napping business, in which they kidnap dogs and then return them to their owners for large rewards. Billy and his partner, Sam (Christopher Walken), make the mistake of kidnapping the dog of psychotic gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Now Marty has all the inspiration he needs, he just needs to make sure he survives to write his script.
What I’m going to try and do is look at Seven Psychopaths on simply it’s own merits, because In Bruges was a very tough act to follow. So, Seven Psychopaths, on it’s own, is good. It’s not great, but it’s a good film. The acting is where it really stands out, with it being very hard to select the best one, so I’m just going to say everyone is equally brilliant, although Tom Wait’s cameo is very memorable and possibly the best bit in the movie. Christopher Walken is so deadpan I’m surprised he’s not actually dead, and Sam Rockwell is just enjoyably mental. So why do I say this film is just okay?
The writing and direction is the main problem, and I never thought I’d say that about the guy who did In Bru”NO! BAD! NO COMPARING! Sorry. Anyway, the direction and writing are a let down. It’s just too cartoon-ish. It probably would have worked better as an animated series or film. The pacing is all over the place, and it introduces characters and backstories with any thought to the fact that with all this stuff going on it gets very hard to follow. It feels more like an ‘auteur’ project than In Br”STOP IT! OWN MERITS! It’s just being quirky for the sake of being quirky, with some seriously graphic violence being shown in a very comic way, which takes down the drama by several notches.
Seven Psychopaths has good ideas, good actors, and good talent behind the camera, but feels very disjointed and all over the place. Also, for a film billing itself as a comedy, it’s really not very funny. It’s not like Clerks, where there just aren’t that many jokes, it’s just that the jokes aren’t very good. In In Bruges, the comedy came out of the dialogue, not the jokes. Oh, I did it again. You know what, forget it. This film is no where near as good as In Bruges. Not even close. Everything that In Bruges did well, the drama, the dialogue, the way every single scene added up to something later, and yet it was still easy to follow and was a breeze to watch, this does wrong. Seven Psychopaths is not a bad film, but it’s possibly the most disappointing one of this year, just for the simple fact of it being an inferior follow up.