Unfettered by traditional plot conventions, or perhaps rebelling against them defiantly, Martin McDonaugh's masterful new comedy gives the cynical movie-goer hope for a world in which major franchises aren't the only reliable option. Since the release of his critically acclaimed comedy "In Bruges" in 2008, the British playwright's next project has been hotly anticipated -- and it's been well worth the wait.
Colin Farrell stars as Marty, an alcoholic screenwriter whose new script, "Seven Psychopaths," isn't coming easily. Thankfully, he seems to be surrounded by great prospective subjects. Take his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), who steals dogs and hands them over to his pal Hans (Christopher Walken), who returns them to frantic owners for the reward money. Once the pair capture the beloved shih tzu of high-ranking gangster, everyone gets an extra dose of crazy.
These characters live in a suburb of Quentin Tarantino's metropolis -- just as strange and witty, but a little softer in the gut. They care, which elevates this film above the usual dystopian black comedy -- except that it is also devastatingly funny. McDonaugh's self-awareness as a screenwriter is effectively played for laughs (for example, when reading Marty's script, a character complains that he doesn't know how to write for women, and in the film itself, ladies are minor characters). But he also knows how to use the talent he's working with.
Christopher Walken here is finally given the kind of comedic role that makes use out of him being him. The look, the accent, the delivery -- McDonaugh's script gives him every opportunity to show it off. Sam Rockwell also gets to revel in his cloying, unhinged best buddy role. Overall, it's a win-win-win.
If you go
Director: Martin McDonaugh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken