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Colin Farrell
Woody Harrelson
Abbie Cornish
Sam Rockwell
Christopher Walken
Olga Kurylenko
Gabourey Sidibe
Tom Waits.
Martin McDonagh.
Martin McDonagh.
Running Time
110 minutes

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Seven Psychopaths
Heavy meta

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Los Angeles. Marty (Farrell), an Irish screenwriter, is struggling to put together a script called Seven Psychopaths. Billy (Rockwell), Marty’s friend, would like to help, and passes on anecdotes about real psychopaths, including gang boss Charlie (Harrelson) and dognapper Hans (Walken). When Billy steals Charlie’s beloved dog for Hans, Marty gets caught up in an escalating, violent situation.

Seven Psychopaths
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Martin Mcdonagh made a lasting impression in 2008 with his debut feature, In Bruges — which has crept up many people’s favourite film lists, partly thanks to its quotability. Given that there’s been a four-year wait for a follow-up, and that Seven Psychopaths is about a blocked Irish screenwriter called Marty, there’s a possibility that McDonagh is flirting with autobiography here. Or maybe that’s as much a feint as anything else on offer.

In a set-up reminiscent of Adaptation and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, every film cliché is followed by a footnote. The funniest, most perceptive deconstructions of movie conventions come from a complete maniac. Billy (Sam Rockwell) notes that you can do anything on screen to a woman so long as you let a cute animal go unscathed.

Colin Farrell, so much better in indie dramas than product like the Fright Night or Total Recall remakes, plays it quizzical as the token non-psychopath, letting Rockwell seize the day as the hero’s collaborator/stalker/best friend. It’s the sort of role that would have a lock on a Best Supporting Actor nomination if only Christopher Walken, delivering the full-strength Walken for the first time in a while, weren’t in the same film. Walken gets a face-off moment, involving a cravat, with Woody Harrelson’s gangster that’s as good as his confrontation with Dennis Hopper in True Romance. There’s too much material here for it all to be digested, especially since the plot is basically a dance around the fact that there isn’t one… and the smart insights about lazy moviemaking still apply to this film as much as to the most average shoot ’em up.

Enormously entertaining, endlessly quotable, perfectly cast and packed full of the richest acting you’ll see from an ensemble cast all year, but the result is ever so slightly hollow.

Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Seven Psychopaths
Empire Star Rating

Funny and clever(ish)

While lacking the depth of In Bruges, and not always as clever as it thinks it is, this is still lots of postmodern, quotable fun with great acting and a zippy pace. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by philshepp at 18:37, 21 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: messy

Seven Psychopaths (2012) A British black comedy but you wouldn't really think it, this could almost be another Tarantino cauldron of tales all mixed together. Hell even the films poster has a Guy Ritchie look n feel to it, this could easily of been another cockney crime comedy with the usual suspects cast, in other words more of the same over used cockneys. Instead we have a Pacific coast take that normally wouldn't make me batter an eyelid but the cast is terrific. The films kicks of... More

Posted by Phubbs at 07:18, 20 January 2013 | Report This Post

RE: messy

Thought overall it was a mess but it did have its moments. Liked the discussion of the lack of female characters in the screenplay, as this was something I'd been thinking about the film up until then. This however could have just been a clever disguise to try and make up for the actual film's similar shortcomings. Well acted and looked great, can understand the Tarantino comparisons as this was exactly what I thought when it started, but overall the jokes fell flat and scenes seemed to fo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by snazzy_sophie at 06:49, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: messy

Bargain bin stuff ?? come on a year sadly lacking in anything to be joyous about I'd say this placed a glimmer of yeah finally something to bring a wry smile.. Walken's character I just warmed to but Mr Rockwell was just superb,but then I knew he'd steal the show. Farrell played his part with gusto and I loved the whole story,scenario and the best bit ..epic shoot out in Billy's worldnt to a small indi cinema to see it which was packed and have to say much hilaraity ensued, for my money... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Magenta at 19:26, 18 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Thank God for Rockwell

I liked it, but I didn't love it. It felt like it was always on the brink of becoming hilarious, but it just never quite made it. (The opening two characters were an awesome surprise, though ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whistler at 20:59, 11 December 2012 | Report This Post


I liked it. I sometimes didn't think it was quite funny enough in the funny moments, or serious enough in the others, but still a lot of fun. Quite touching too, especially during the "Film within a film" scenes. I still prefer In Bruges (which I really want to watch now!), but this is still a highlight for me ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 21:11, 09 December 2012 | Report This Post


Seen this over the weekend, I must say I was extremely disappointed. Elab is right that comparing this to In Bruges (in terms of content) isn't really a worthwhile exercise. What can however be compared is whether both achieve what they set out to do. In Bruges worked extremely well as a self-contained crime comedy with touches of melancholy. For me, Seven Psychopaths doesn't work at all because structurally it's all over the shop, whilst the concept of satirising screen-writing or de... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 13:59, 09 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Seven Psychopaths

Four years have passed since Irish playwright Martin McDonagh made his feature-length debut In Bruges which has gained cult status as one of the funniest and darkest dramas… to be set in Bruges. After his first America-set play A Behanding in Spokane, McDonagh’s return to cinema looks into Hollywood screenwriting, in a funny and fittingly psychopathic crime caper. Living in Los Angeles, Irish alcoholic Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) struggles to finish his script “Seven Psychopaths”. When h... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 18:52, 05 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Seven Psychopaths

It's more that some reviews have criticised it because it's not In Bruges (not Empire's), that it isn't the same structure or themes or another version of the same story. Shouldn't the first hope for any film be that it isn't just a retread of the one before, no matter how good that was? Anyway, 2nd film or not the director/writer is already a well-established and accomplished playwright. No-one gave him crap for In Bruges not being as good as The Pillowman. Also, 3rd film surely? His fir... More

Posted by elab49 at 17:47, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Seven Psychopaths

L: MuckyMuckMan Agree with Elab on this, why is the film being compared to In Bruges. ecause it's the same writer/director, using the same actor in the lead role? I know this is only McDonagh's second film, but if you saw any other reasonably recognized director making a follow up to a successful film that uses the same actor as that film, then it is more than reasonable to expect comparisons. ... More

Posted by Indio at 17:04, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Seven Psychopaths

L: elab49 It's not In Bruges and citing Tarantino, IMO, is a shallow nod to a structure play which Quentin hardly thought up himself and is not deserving of the -esque term. Where it also has nothing to do with Tarantino is that it isn't just messing about with vignettes it's playing with an idea. I think it's very different to In Bruges and I can see some reviews suffering because of it - the ones that bang on and on about the other film as if McDonagh has to write the same thin... More

Posted by MuckyMuckMan at 13:42, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Seven Psychopaths

It's not In Bruges and citing Tarantino, IMO, is a shallow nod to a structure play which Quentin hardly thought up himself and is not deserving of the -esque term. Where it also has nothing to do with Tarantino is that it isn't just messing about with vignettes it's playing with an idea. I think it's very different to In Bruges and I can see some reviews suffering because of it - the ones that bang on and on about the other film as if McDonagh has to write the same thing over and over aga... More

Posted by elab49 at 14:30, 03 December 2012 | Report This Post

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