Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths is a 2012 black comedy crime metafilm written and directed by Martin McDonagh. It stars Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken, with Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish, Olga Kurylenko, and Željko Ivanek in supporting roles. The film marks the second collaboration between McDonagh, Farrell, and Ivanek, following 2008's In Bruges. The film was a co-production of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Seven Psychopaths had its world premiere on 7 September 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was released in the United States and Canada on 12 October 2012, and in the United Kingdom on 5 December 2012.


    Marty Faranan (Farrell) is a struggling writer in Los Angeles, California who dreams of finishing his screenplay, Seven Psychopaths. Marty's best friend, Billy Bickle (Rockwell), is an unemployed actor who makes a living by kidnapping dogs and collecting the owners' cash rewards for their safe return. His partner-in-crime is Hans Kieslowski (Walken), a religious man with a cancer-stricken wife, Myra. Billy helps Marty with Seven Psychopaths, suggesting he use the "Jack of Diamonds" killer, perpetrator of a recent double murder, as one of the seven "psychopaths" in his script. Marty writes a story for another psychopath, the "Quaker", who stalks his daughter's killer for decades, driving the killer to suicide and ultimately cutting his own throat to follow him to hell.

    Billy and Hans steal a Shih Tzu, Bonny, unaware that it is the beloved pet of Charlie Costello (Harrelson), an unpredictable and violent gangster. Billy places an advertisement in the newspaper inviting "psychopaths" to call and share their "crazy or quirky" stories for him and Marty to use in their script. Charlie's thugs, led by Paulo (Ivanek), discover Hans' connection to the kidnapping. At a warehouse, they threaten to kill Marty and Hans unless they reveal Bonny's location, but the Jack of Diamonds killer arrives and shoots the thugs. Marty and Billy meet Zachariah Rigby, who saw the advertisement and shares his story. Charlie traces Myra to the cancer ward, killing her when she refuses to tell him Hans or Bonny's whereabouts.

    Billy goes to Costello's house to meet up with his girlfriend, Angela (Kurylenko), who is also the girlfriend of Charlie. After revealing to her that he kidnapped Bonny, she calls Charlie to tell him. However, Billy, after finding out that Charlie murdered Myra, shoots Angela after handing her a playing card, revealing himself as the Jack of Diamonds serial killer. Meanwhile, Charlie, having learned Billy's address only to find him gone, grieves over Bonny's absence, and discovers dozens of packs of playing cards, all with the Jack of Diamonds cards missing, realizing that Billy is the Jack of Diamonds.

    Marty, Billy and Hans leave town with Bonny to escape Charlie. Hans reveals that he was the Quaker, and survived his attempted suicide. Marty unknowingly wrote his story after hearing it from a drunken Billy. The trio drive into the desert. Billy suggests Seven Psychopaths end with an emotional shootout between the psychopaths and Charlie's forces. Marty and Hans see a headline saying Billy is wanted in connection with the Jack of Diamonds killings. Marty confronts Billy, who reveals he assumed the Jack of Diamonds persona and went on a killing spree to give Marty inspiration for Seven Psychopaths. Disillusioned, Marty tells Billy they must go home. Meanwhile, Hans has a vision of Myra in a "grey place". Hans questions his belief in the afterlife, dismissing Marty's reassurances that his vision was a peyote-induced hallucination. Billy sets fire to the car, stranding the trio in the desert, and calls Charlie, telling him their location. Billy intends to make the climactic shootout he envisioned a reality. Billy claims he caused the hallucination by impersonating Myra, causing Hans to leave.

    Charlie arrives alone, without a weapon apart from a flare gun in his car. Billy shoots Charlie, enraged that he has not brought the men and weapons required for a satisfying shootout. Hans finds Charlie's thugs waiting for a flare signal nearby. Marty drives away with Charlie, intending to take him to a hospital. Billy realizes the flare gun's purpose and fires it. Hans motions as if to draw a weapon, causing Paulo to shoot him in front of police. Before dying, Hans says "It isn't grey at all", restoring his faith in the afterlife. The thugs head towards Billy's flare, police in pursuit, only to encounter Marty and Charlie's car on the road. Charlie reveals that he only suffered a flesh wound. Now with backup, Charlie returns to Billy and Bonny's location. After a shootout, Charlie and Billy have a stand-off, holding Marty and Bonny hostage respectively. Charlie releases Marty and shoots Billy just as the police arrive. Charlie and Paulo are arrested, but Bonny stays at the dying Billy's side. Marty visits the scene of Hans's death, and finds a tape recorder with suggestions for Seven Psychopaths on his body. Later, Marty finishes the screenplay at home, having adopted Bonny as a pet. Marty steps outside and walks down the street, script in hand.

    Ultimately, Zachariah, having finished watching the completed Seven Psychopaths film, calls Marty, telling Marty that he will be over to kill him on Tuesday for forgetting to leave a message in the credits as promised. On hearing Marty's resigned acceptance, Zachariah realizes that Marty's experiences have left him a changed man, and decides to spare him.



    The first casting announcements were made on 12 May 2011.Mickey Rourke dropped out of The Expendables 2 to co-star in the film. He later dropped out of Seven Psychopaths after having disagreements with McDonagh, calling him a "jerk-off." He was replaced by Woody Harrelson. Of the incident, McDonagh said "I was fine with it. Mickey's a great actor [...] I've known Woody [Harrelson] for years and years, and he was a perfect choice for this too. He's got those great dramatic elements which he's shown in Rampart recently, and he's always been a fantastic comedian. You need that in this – someone who can be out-and-out funny, but also turn sinister on a dime."

    The film was shot in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, California. Filming was completed late 2011. The first set photos were revealed on 11 November 2011.


    The film's score was composed by Carter Burwell, who previously composed the score to McDonagh's In Bruges. Lakeshore Records released the soundtrack digitally on 23 October 2012, with a physical release date on 20 November 2012.


    Box office performance

    Seven Psychopaths was released in North American on 12 October 2012, and opened in 1,480 theaters in the United States, grossing $1,360,000 on its opening day and $4,275,000 on its opening weekend, ranking #9 with a per theater average of $2,889. On its second weekend, it dropped down to #11 and grossed $3,273,480, with a per theater average of $2,212. By its third weekend, it dropped down even more to #15 and made $1,498,350, with a per theater average of $1,494. It was released 5 December 2012 in the United Kingdom.

    Critical response

    The film received positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 83%, based on 198 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Seven Psychopaths delivers sly cinematic commentary while serving up a heaping helping of sharp dialogue and gleeful violence." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film holds a score of 66 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."

    Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a positive review and a "A-" grade, praising McDonagh's writing, stating that it "hits a unique pitch between dark, bloody satire and interpersonal conflicts that makes his finest work play like a combination of Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin." About the film itself, he wrote: "A less controlled and slapdash character piece than In Bruges, McDonagh's new movie benefits greatly from a plethora of one-liners that toy with crime movie clichés in the unlikely context of writerly obsessions." Claudia Puig of USA Today also gave the film a positive review, writing that "men in movies are often just overgrown boys, and Seven Psychopaths is out to prove it – in the most twisted, hilarious way possible."Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four. He praised the performances of main cast members and McDonagh's writing, stating that "Walken sometimes leans toward self-parody, but here his performance has a delicate, contained strangeness. All of the actors are good, and Farrell wisely allows the showier performances to circle around him. Like any screenwriter – like Tarantino, for example, who is possibly McDonagh's inspiration here – he brings these people into being and stands back in amazement." About the film, he added: "This is a delightfully goofy, self-aware movie that knows it is a movie."Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B+" grade, stating: "An energetically demented psycho-killer comedy set in faux-noir L.A., Seven Psychopaths rollicks along to the unique narrative beat and language stylings of Anglo-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), channeling Quentin Tarantino."

    David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praised the performances of the main cast members, he stated: "As creatively bankrupt Marty, Farrell is in subdued mode here, his performance largely defined by the endless expressivity of his eyebrows. He serves as an excellent foil for Rockwell, whose line readings continually dance between knowingness and idiocy, and Walken, who ventures as far into deadpan as you can go while remaining conscious. And Harrelson has fun contrasting his devotion to Bonny with his contempt for humanity." He wrote about the film that "while it's way behind the Pulp Fiction curve, Seven Psychopaths can be terrifically entertaining." Catherine Shoard of The Guardian gave the film four stars out of five, indicating a positive review, she wrote: "There are scenes of complete brilliance, Walken is better than he's been in years, cute plot loops and grace notes."Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, stating: "Blood splatters, heads explode, and McDonagh takes sassy, self-mocking shots at the very notion of being literary in Hollywood. It's crazy-killer fun."Ty Burr of Boston Globe also gave the film three stars out of four, stating that the film is "absurdly entertaining even after it disappears up its own hindquarters in the last act, and it gives some of our weirder actors ample room to play."

    Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four, writing that "the result is a clever, violent daydream. But McDonagh's skill behind the camera has grown considerably since In Bruges. And the way he writes, he's able to attract the ideal actors into his garden of psychopathology."Dana Stevens of Slate magazine gave the film a positive review, stating: "It's at once a gangster movie, a buddy comedy, and a meta-fictional exploration of the limits of both genres - and if that sounds impossible to pull off, well, McDonagh doesn't, quite. But the pure sick brio of Seven Psychopaths takes it a long way."Richard Corliss of Time magazine also gave the film a positive review, writing that "small in stature but consistently entertaining, Seven Psychopaths is a vacation from consequence for the Tony- and Oscar-winning author, and an unsupervised play date for his cast of screw-loose stars."James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, stating: "On balance, one could argue that Seven Psychopaths warrants a better rating than a mediocre **1/2, but the aftertaste is so bitter that it diminishes the sweetness that started off the meal."

    Peter Debruge of Variety magazine gave the film a mixed review, stating that "the film's overall tone is so cartoony, it's easy to imagine someone spinning off a macabre animated series of the same name....." and that "compared to McDonagh's best work for stage (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) and screen (In Bruges), Seven Psychopaths feels like either an older script knocking around the bottom of a drawer or a new one hastily tossed off between more ambitious projects." Kevin Jagernauth of The Playlist also gave the film a mixed review, stating that "somewhat spastic and overcooked, Seven Psychopaths might have a few too many."

    Awards and nominations

    Date Group Category Recipients Result
    6–16 September 2012 Toronto International Film Festival People Choice Award – Midnight Madness Martin McDonagh Won
    10–21 October 2012 London Film Festival Best Film Martin McDonagh Nominated
    9 December 2012 Boston Society of Film Critics Best Cast Won
    11 December 2012 San Diego Film Critics Society Best Performance by an Ensemble Nominated
    Best Supporting Actor Christopher Walken Nominated
    10 February 2013 BAFTA Awards Best British Film Martin McDonagh, Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin Nominated
    9 February 2013 Irish Film & Television Awards Best Actor in a Lead Role in a Feature Film Colin Farrell Nominated
    Best Director – Film Martin McDonagh Nominated
    Best Script – Film Martin McDonagh Nominated
    23 February 2013 Independent Spirit Awards Best Screenplay Martin McDonagh Nominated
    Best Supporting Male Sam Rockwell Nominated
    26 June 2013 Saturn Awards Best Horror or Thriller Film Nominated
    Best Writing Martin McDonagh Nominated


    External links