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Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/29/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/28/2013
Sometimes, marketing a movie is very hard -- take it from me. I've written a screenplay which is very difficult to "sell". If you simply read a synopsis of the story, it comes across as sort of vanilla. But, those who have read the script tell me that's funny and creepy, but that's not something which easily comes across in the description and I simply can't tell you that it's funny or creepy. The same thing happens with movie trailers. It's their job to make a movie seem appealing, but the people who cut the trailers can only do so much with the footage which they have and they often wind up creating something which doesn't represent the finished film, or worse, misleads the viewer. This was certainly the case with Seven Psychopaths. Based on the trailer, I really had little interest in the film and expected it to be awful. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case.
Colin Farrell stars in Seven Psychopaths as Marty, a Los Angeles based screenwriter. His current assignment is overdue and he's having trouble with the script, although he does have what he considers to be a catchy title -- "Seven Psychopaths". Marty's best friend is Billy (Sam Rockwell), a struggling actor who seems to live to insult Marty's girlfriend, Kaya (Abbie Cornish). To make ends meet, Billy and his friend, Hans (Christopher Walken), an older gentleman, kidnap dogs and then return them to their owners in order to collect a reward. Hans does this to raise money for his wife, Myra (Linda Bright Clay), who is undergoing cancer treatment. One day, Billy takes the wrong dog -- a shih tzu which belongs to a psychotic criminal named Charlie (Woody Harrelson). Once Charlie learns who has taken his dog, Marty, Billy, and Hans find themselves on the run.
For reasons which has always escaped me, Hollywood loves crime movies and they are a dime a dozen. Television and home video release schedules are littered with them and they are honestly indistinguishable at times. The aforementioned trailer for Seven Psychopaths certainly made this movie seem that way (although it hinted at a bit of quirkiness) and I'm sure that the above synopsis didn't make the movie sound all that original. At first glance, the only thing about the movie that really catches the eye is the cast.
But, give Seven Psychopaths and you'll find a very compelling and fun movie which has many layers. The beauty of the film is that Writer/Director Martin McDonagh has created a movie which is constantly twisting and turning on itself, not only to keep the viewer guessing, but to make them intrigued to see what will happen next.
The overview of the story which I presented does occur in the film and it's fairly straightforward. Billy and Hans take their dognapping business one step too far and Marty finds himself caught up in all of it. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg in Seven Psychopaths. The movie focuses on this storyline, but it also lends time to Marty's story, specifically his screenplay. We go inside of Marty's head and get to see firsthand the vignettes he's created for his script. This may sound like an odd turn of events, but it actually ties into the movie as a whole. This reminded me of Kiss Kiss Bang Band and, to an extent, Pulp Fiction, as the story is able to take a detour, present something interesting, and then get back to the main story without missing a beat. This carries on throughout the film as Billy and Hans take a crack at helping Marty with his story. The movie also presents us with the subplot of a vigilante called the "Jack of Diamonds" killer which ultimately ties into everything else.
The characters, and by way of extension, the actors, help to propel the movie as well. Marty, an admitted alcoholic, is also an insecure man who just want to write and drink. He has no interest in the crazy life which Billy and Hans have created. I'm not a huge fan of Colin Farrell, as he also seems to play characters who are full of false bravado. The logical and skittish Marty is a change of pace for him and I really liked him in this role. Sam Rockwell is known for playing off-beat characters, and Billy is no exception. At times, he seems to be in his own movie, as he yells insults at people and takes time to snack in odd situations. In short, he's the lifeblood of the movie and his odd behavior has us clamoring to see what he'll do next. Rockwell steals every scene which he is in. Almost going against type, Walken plays Hans in a very low-key fashion for the most part, and he's often the voice of reason, as Billy doesn't think things through and Marty just wants to go home.
Seven Psychopaths really took me by surprise and I was taken in by the film's unique approach to storytelling and its great characters. The first half is better than the second half, but the entire film is filled with surprising twists and funny moments (and a few touching ones), and it rarely does what you think its going to. It's about time that someone injected some lifeblood back into the crime film and Seven Psychopaths does it with aplomb.
Seven Psychopaths makes it clear that anyone can die at any time on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at 28 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain and no defects from the source materials. That smattering of grain looks like something which was allowed to add a "gritty" feel to the movie. The colors are good, most notably the red blood, and the image is never overly dark or bright, even in the daytime scenes in the desert. The image offers a nice amount of detail, as we can make out textures on objects. The level of depth on the picture is very good, especially during the desert scenes. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effect are fine, as they show good separation and highlight sounds coming from off-screen. The surround sound effects are very good and they come to life in the action scenes and Marty's fantasies. The gunfights allow the subwoofer effects to join in and they really add to the more shocking moments.
The Seven Psychopaths Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extras, all of which are very brief and feel as if they were pulled off of a marketing website. "Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths" (3 minutes) has comments from the director as well as the actors talking about the script. However, this piece has a lot of clips as well. "Colin Farrell is Marty" (85 seconds) has the actor describing his character. We get something similar in "Woody Harrelson is Charlie" (84 seconds). "Crazy Locations" (2 minutes) offers a brief discussion on finding the proper places in and around Los Angeles to shoot the film. "Seven Psychocats" (91 seconds) is the film's trailer...but with cats. I liked this because I like cats, but it was still pointless. "Layers" (65 seconds) is a musical montage of random shots.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.