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Like it Was Written & Directed by Seven Psychopaths

Like it Was Written & Directed by <i>Seven Psychopaths</i>

DVD Release Date: January 29, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: October 12, 2012
Rating: R (for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Genre: Dark comedy/Crime
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko

Like last year’s box office hit Horrible Bosses, where Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day play regular guys who decide murder is okay as long as it’s for a worthy cause, the bloodthirsty madmen of Seven Psychopaths embrace an equally warped ethos.

To wit, they only kill people who’ve killed other people. Or in the case of a slightly unhinged dog lover like Charlie (Woody Harrelson, The Hunger Games), the odd exception is made for anyone who steals his beloved shih tzu, Bonny. His sadistic heart has a soft spot for that ball of fur, and anyone involved with her disappearance is officially on the fast track for the Afterlife.

Coincidentally enough, a struggling screenwriter named Marty (Colin Farrell, Total Recall) unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the company of these titular criminals as he pens the movie script with nothing more than a promising title, Seven Psychopaths. Not making much progress after days and days of heavy drinking (he chalks it up to being a writer—and Irish) and losing his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish, Elizabeth) by insulting her at her own birthday party (an understatement, really), his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell, Iron Man 2) offers his assistance, not that Marty wants it, mind you.

But the classified ad that Billy ends up posting in the local newspaper immediately garners attention since he’s now invited anyone who has psychopathic tendencies—or knows someone who does—to stop by Marty’s place for an interview since he’s a little short on characters at the moment. Of course when a creepy guy shows up at your door with a bunny, most people immediately dial 911. Feeling fresh out of any other promising options, however, Marty reluctantly invites him in for a chat that yields some frightening but potentially page-turning results.

Also making his way into Marty and Bill’s orbit is the aforementioned dog thief himself, Hans (Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can). Trying to earn a quick buck for his wife’s cancer treatment, Hans gets to play the hero for a profit. And since Walken has seemingly never met a crazy guy he doesn’t like in nearly six decades of acting, it’s not surprising that his character is so much more than just a pet profiteer. He’s just one of the seven psychopaths and a total standout from beginning to end.

With a madcap, they’re-just-making-it-up-as-they-go quality, Seven Psychopaths makes the most of a lean storyline, namely seeing the worst possible scenario play out for a Hollywood hack with a severe case of writer’s block. Like a Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino film, Seven Psychopaths is a film full of flawed people (some pure evil, some well-meaning) and jaw-dropping bursts of violence that won’t likely be the masses’ proverbial cup of tea.

Often juxtaposing the most disturbing displays of human behavior with genuinely moving ones, Seven Psychopaths tries to offer a little sugar with its tart humor. Trouble is, there are just too many moments that are just plain painful to watch. A sequence involving the mistreatment of Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as a dog walker is nothing short of awful in the first few minutes, not to mention the film’s ongoing motif of celebrating how badly women are treated, the degradation of African Americans and homosexuals, and the gory demise of people, who in some cases, were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While it’s often rewarding to see the bad guys getting their due and justice served on the big-screen, Seven Psychopaths is simply far too demented for any real, meaningful takeaway value. Even if artful at times, this shameless exercise in shock value is the sort of violent dream you’re just thankful isn’t real (but hey, the dog lives, so that’s something, right?).


  • Drugs/Alcohol: There’s an ongoing joke about Marty’s alcoholism, which he jokes is all part of being a writer. We see him drink and drive in one scene. Hans uses peyote.
  • Language/Profanity: All matters of expletives are used throughout, the “f” word is clearly the runaway favorite. A few instances where God’s name is misused. Racial epithets directed toward African Americans.
  • Sex/Nudity: Rude references to homosexuals, female anatomy, and the “c” word is used several times to describe women the guys are angry with. Sexually charged innuendo and jokes. A prostitute is shown topless in three different scenes. A sex scene is cut short because of a male performance issue (he throws a condom in disgust). Another couple is shown in the throes of lovemaking (no nudity).
  • Violence: There are random—and not-so-random—bursts of bloody, Tarantino-esque violence throughout. People are shot at close range (their bloody faces and bodies are shown up close). The violence toward women is short of an ongoing joke, too, with female characters facing particularly grisly ends (one woman has blood pouring from her bosom, another from her stomach). A cancer victim is shot in the hospital, and we see blood all over the walls, her face, etc. Two men slit their own throats in a particularly unpleasant manner. A man lights himself on fire (and we see him burn to a crisp) to make a greater political statement. Car explosions led to other deaths. Stabbings. Gun fights. A corpse is shown lying in the middle of the road.
  • Religion: Strangely enough in this odd little movie, God and Jesus are referred to quite a bit. While there are instances where God’s name is misused (see “language/profanity”), there are also references to Jesus’s grisly, seemingly unfair death on a cross. A convicted killer we’re told has truly repented for his transgressions and he establishes a genuine relationship with God in prison. He’s later released early for good behavior before meeting a rather heinous demise. The same guy believes he’ll go to hell if he commits suicide. Another man has a crisis of faith as his wife struggles with cancer. Marty says he wants his story to be a Buddhist story of seven psychopaths where peace, rather than a big shoot-out, is what characterizes the script.

Publication date: October 12, 2012