Movies: Seven Psychopaths

The Amish guy is a slasher. The serial killer loves bunny rabbits. The Buddhist packs dynamite. And the screenwriter is very late getting his script finished.

(From left) Marty (Colin Farrell), Hans (Christopher Walken) and Billy (Sam Rockwell) have retreated to the desert to escape the mobster whose dog they kidnapped.
Photo: CBS Films

The latter is Marty (Colin Farrell). He’s got the title of the script — Seven Psychopaths — but that’s it. Marty’s best friend is Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor who makes a living dognapping and collecting the rewards for “finding” the dogs. Not too subtly, Billy shares a surname with the lead character in Taxi Driver and also shares some of personality traits of that man. But Billy is a good friend. He is convinced that Marty is held back by his excessive drinking and wants to help with the script. Toward that end he takes out a newspaper ad “calling all psychopaths.”

Billy works at dognapping with Hans (Christopher Walken), who uses the reward money for “finding” the dogs to pay for his wife’s cancer treatment. One day, Billy grabs a Shih Tzu that turns out to be the beloved pet of Charlie (Woody Harrelson), a Hollywood gangster who will do anything to get back his pet.

At the heart of all the action — and it is kind of grisly and gory — is a rumination on creativity and inspiration. Farrell, Rockwell and Walken are outstanding (I’ve never understood why Farrell isn’t a bigger star than he is) and writer/director Martin McDonough, who wrote and directed In Bruges, a terrific 2008 film that also starred Colin Farrell, has delivered this fast-paced, unusual gift to audiences.

And, it is unusual. Seven Psychopaths is not politically correct or gentle. It delivers no large lesson. The take-away from this movie is, simply, a good time watching an unusual movie. And, really, can we ask for much more?