'Seven Psychopaths' is one of those brilliant crime movies that nobody saw on the big screen. Imagine 'Snatch' set in the U.S. with a huge array of batshit crazy characters. Just about everyone in the film is some sort of psychopath, and even those that aren't can arguably be considered nuts for hanging around with the lot of them.
If you enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s crime films like 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,' 'Snatch' and 'RockNRolla,' then you'll love 'Seven Psychopaths.' Remove the tough-as-nails criminals from Ritchie's films, replace them with similarly philosophical psychos and – BLAMMO – you've got 'Seven Psychopaths.'
If there's a lead in this ensemble flick, it's Colin Farrell. Much like Nicholas Cage in 'Adaptation,' Farrell plays a fictional version of the film's actual writer and director, Martin McDonagh (of 'In Bruges' fame). Known as "Marty," Farrell's character is having a difficult time writing his new screenplay, entitled 'Seven Psychopaths.' On paper, all that Marty has is a title – but in his mind, he's creating a masterpiece. His intent is to write a screenplay about the relationships of people who do awful things, wrapping it up with seven central characters coming to huge, life-changing experiences. The only problem is that Marty can't create the seven essential characters to carry the story. That's where Sam Rockwell comes in.
You know how most down-and-out actors in L.A. get jobs waiting tables - or something like that? Well, Marty's wannabe actor best friend Billy (Rockwell) has established a lucrative little racket of his own that's much more appealing than restaurant jobs. Billy hangs out in a park around the La Brea tar pits. When their wealthy owners aren't looking, he steals dogs, only to return them a few days later and collect the rewards. Who knows how long he and his partner Hans (Christopher Walken) have been pulling off this scam?
After Billy creates a unique and worthy psychopath for 'Seven Psychopaths,' Marty brings him on as a co-writer, not knowing that Billy's "day job" is about to change everything. You see, Billy and Hans just stole the Shih Tzu of an off-his-rocker gangster (Woody Harrelson), a crime lord so crazy that he's willing to kill anyone and anything that might keep him from his little poochie.
What ensues is pure genius. With the sole purpose of finishing 'Seven Psychopaths,' Marty gets dragged into an unbelievable scenario that just might contain each of the seven crucial characters that he has been looking for all along. Occasionally bouncing in and out of the world of Marty's screenplay, 'Seven Psychopaths' is an exhilarating, hilarious and tense flick worth picking up.
I first reviewed 'Seven Psychopaths' on the High-Def Digest blog 'The Bonus View' and absolutely loved it – but I can honestly say that it was even better with a second viewing. Although you wouldn't expect it from the gritty genre that it falls in, the intricate and deeper elements of the writing became even more evident with multiple viewings. McDonagh's blend of theatrical and film writing proves to be unique and strong. Although it only earned $16.1 million at the worldwide box office, I'm certain that with positive work-of-mouth and the Blu-ray now available, 'Seven Psychopaths' will soon become a cult classic.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony has placed 'Seven Psychopaths' on a Region A BD-50 that's housed in a single-disc vortex keepcase. When open, the case reveals the image of a Shih Tzu on the back of the cover art sheet. Included in the case is a code for an Ultraviolet copy of the film. A few skippable videos play before the animated main menu – a Sony vanity reel, an Ultraviolet promo reel and a trailer for a movie titled '7500.'
'Seven Psychopaths' storms Blu-ray with a near-perfect 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that's presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
Following suit with the genre and tone, the video quality is both gritty and beautiful at the same time. The movie carries a slightly blown out look that causes the film grain and gritty style to appear very strong. The contrast causes the bright lights to be blinding and the heavy nighttime blacks to be consuming. But amidst these unrealistic levels, fleshtones are warm, colors are vibrant – especially the reds, which are always explosive – and this creative style is perfectly consistent throughout the entire film.
The cinematography is done justice through this combination of design decisions. The beautiful locations of Southern California appear even more iconic in 'Seven Psychopaths' than in do in real life and in past movies – and this is coming from a guy who grew up in the region. Lake Hollywood Park is gorgeous in the opening scene. The way that Joshua Tree is shot makes the desert actually look appealing. The La Brea tar pits are prettier than I remember them being on elementary school field trips. I love how Southern California is portrayed.
There aren't any compression flaws or noticeable errors, but I do have one little complaint with the consistency of the amount of visible details. For the most part, the video is highly detailed. It first becomes evident several minutes into the movie when we meet Hans. The textures of his retro clothing and the rogue hairs on Walken's head are astonishingly detailed. Before that, the video isn't noteworthy, but after that it gets great. The quality occasionally softens, but quickly composes itself and gets back to greatness.
Sadly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track isn't all that impressive. In fact, it's quite underwhelming.
For the majority of the film, the only sounds that emit from the surround and rear channels are music. Towards the end of the film, we get a loud explosion that rings through all channels – but not even the gunshot-heavy shoot-outs manage to utilize the channels. Aside from the music, this track is mostly confined to the front and center. Plenty of passive environmental instances warrant great sound - like a crackling campfire, wind whipping across the dry Mojave Desert, heavy Southern California traffic – but they are wasted opportunities. Being a Sony Blu-ray, I expected more from the audio's abilities.
With sounds coming mostly from the front, luckily, the levels are always even. The vocal track is always audible, never trumped by the music or effects. Sound effect and music are also always clear. Made for only $15 million, the lack of dynamics is the only problem that reveals the low budget.
'Seven Psychopaths' is one of the most underrated films of 2012 – not that it deserved awards or anything, but the movie itself is much better than the $16.1 worldwide box office would lead you to believe. But don't just go off my opinion. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating in the 80 percentile, you can assume that it's worthwhile. The Blu-ray's video quality is close to perfection, but it isn't always demo-worthy. Unfortunately, the audio quality is lacking, but that doesn't distract from the fun cinematic greatness that's there to behold. Special features aren't this release's strong suit either. Four of the six featurettes are unapologetic promo pieces. The other two are wacky fun, but nothing special. On the upside, the movie itself is more than enough to make this a disc worth owning. Recommended!