We've all heard the phrase, "sophomore slump" before. It often refers to a sub-par second performance given by an athlete, author or even a Hollywood director. After a successful Oscar Nominated effort for his debut film In Bruges (albeit for its screenplay), Martin McDonagh returns with his follow up feature Seven Psychopaths. Boasting a star-studded cast with the likes of Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson, it goes without saying that McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths is anything but a "sophomore slump".
Marty (played by Farrell) is struggling with the screenplay for his next movie "Seven Psychopaths", but with the right kind of inspiration it could be a masterpiece. Yet, when Marty gets caught up in a dog-napping fiasco with his best friend Billy (played by Rockwell) and Billy's partner in crime Hans (played by Walken), escaping a maniacal cold blooded killer like Charlie (played by Harrelson) may be all the inspiration Marty needs.
Seven Psychopaths is the type of imaginative and twisted off-the-wall comedy that resonates with audiences for a lifetime. Behind the creative genius of writer and director Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths gets by on a clever script, crafty dialogue and a collection of gifted actors. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of McDonagh's second feature is his ability to engineer multi-dimensional characters that the audience naturally clings to. Through the use of brilliant narrative and an onslaught of hysterical scenarios, Seven Psychopaths becomes a timeless comedy that clearly requires multiple viewings. Another aid in developing such strong characters comes from the versatile ensemble that McDonagh brings together. Most notable is Sam Rockwell who offers up an Oscar-style performance as Marty's best friend and dog napper extraordinaire, Billy. Rockwell takes control of the feature and commands the audience's attention with every precisely timed punchline and perfectly branded nuance. Despite Rockwell's elevated level of performance, Seven Psychopaths succeeds because of the entire collective work of its talented cast. The manner in which Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell and Woody Harrelson feed off of Rockwell and each other is nothing short of groundbreaking. Their witty back and forth banter is absolutely hysterical and almost rhythmic. McDonagh manages to bring together a cast for the ages and a script that's perfectly complementary to this group of actors. And as a result, Seven Psychopaths finds itself as this year's best comedy.
In order to find any blemishes with McDonagh's second effort, you really have to get nit-picky. One obvious flaw rests in the complete lack of realism to the story and its circumstances. However, we're dealing with a comedy here so, in retrospect, how believable does the film really need to be? In fact, one of the most admirable qualities of Seven Psychopaths is its ability to transcend normalcy and take you to a world far crazier than the typical movie experience. Furthermore, a more unforgivable flaw occurs in the brief post-credits scene that McDonagh unfortunately decides to include in the film. This short-lived pay phone scene is awkward, strange and all together out of place. Completely unnecessary, it's worth noting that the director could have done without that one. Otherwise, Seven Psychopaths is a wild, energetic and insanely fun time.
Many writers and directors find difficulty in elevating their work after a successful debut. McDonagh not only reaches the same level as his first feature In Bruges, he far exceeds it. Seven Psychopaths only reaffirms McDonagh's creativity and ingenuity among Hollywood's best and brightest, illustrating that the writer/director has a long and prosperous career ahead of himself. Seven Psychopaths is never short on laughs and the comedy proudly sets the bar for its genre. Superbly original, Seven Psychopaths hits theatres everywhere on Friday October 12th and it's definitely the type of laugh out loud experience that you won't want to miss.