Posted on 4/13/13 10:17 AM
Watching Seven Psychopaths, I couldn't help thinking about Quinton Terantino. I don't mean this movie is filled with pop culture references or that the scenes are out of order. It doesn't have endless conversations, although the opening scene is highly reminiscent of the Cheeseburger dialogue from Pulp Fiction. There is plenty of extreme violence, but that's not the main thing that creates the connection in my mind. No, Seven Psychopaths reminds me of Terantino because it's just plain nuts.
How nuts? Well Christopher Walken plays Hans, an elderly pacifist who kidnaps dogs and returns them to their owners for a reward so he can pay for his wife's cancer treatments. His partner in crime is Billy, an aspiring actor with serious anger management issues and a complete lack of manners, tact, or common sense. Billy's best friend is Marty (Collin Ferrell) an alcoholic writer struggling with a screenplay called- wait for it- Seven Psychopaths. And when it turns out that Hans and Billy's latest acquisition belongs to a murderous gangster, all three find themselves in mortal danger. But it's not all bad. At least Marty will get lots of material.
But none of that even begins to describe how crazy this movie and the people in it are. The people surrounding Marty are true psychopaths. Most of them aren't total Gary Busy style mad dogs, but they do and say things that make no sense, and have thought processes that no normal person has. In every situation Billy unwaveringly does the exact opposite of what common sense dictates, usually while telling anyone who objects to calm down and stop being a pussy. Harrelson's gangster is utterly ruthless and extremely violent, and will break down and cry at the thought of living without his dog. And don't even get me started on Zachariah's tale of tale of love found and lost
This whole movie has a wonderful combination of over the top violence and uproarious comedy, with the former often producing the latter. The violence is often so shocking and so unexpected, and the reactions so out of place that you can't hold back the laughter. But there are also times when it achieves just as much with deadpan humor and understatement, best embodied in the sheer drollness of Hans. And it's so unpredictable. Just when you're expecting another shootout you get dubious life's wisdom and peyote trips. There's simply no way you'll guess the ending, because it is simply insane beyond belief.
What really makes this movie stand out though is its structure. With many scenes taking place entirely within Marty's script or other characters minds the filmmakers are able to introduce subplots that otherwise wouldn't fit anywhere in the story, walk through multiple possible endings, and include scenes that are beyond even this movie's logic. This movie is just nuts. And between the acting, the cast of psychopaths, and the utterly ridiculous plot, the whole experience is smart, shocking, hilarious and delightfully offbeat. Seven Psychopaths is a hell of a movie.