Seven Psychopaths is a 2012 dark comedy written and directed by Martin McDonagh, and starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson.Marty (Farrell) is a screenwriter attempting to write his next screenplay, titled Seven Psychopaths. Struggling at the first hurdle of who and what the seven psychopaths are, his best friend (and dog-kidnapper) Billy (Rockwell) does his best to help him out. Attempting to ransom a Shih Tzu named Bonny with his friend Hans (Walken), Billy realizes too late that it belongs to excessively-violent, short-tempered gangster Charlie Costello (Harrelson).Naturally, things soon go to hell very quickly and Marty soon finds himself trapped in a very difficult (albeit script-inspiring) situation and surrounded by several psychopaths.It was released in the United States on October 12, 2012, Seven Psychopaths has several notable co-stars (even including Tom Waits himself), and has received strong praise from both critics and the public, like its predecessor.
This film provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: The two hitmen in the prologue are played by Michael Pitt and Michael Stuhlbarg, who star together in Boardwalk Empire, a show about gangsters and hitmen.
Actual Pacifist: Hans. Even when he drove his daughter's killer to suicide, he never laid a hand on him.
Also, Martin. He doesn't believe in guns.
Costello: Don't you wish you had a gun now? Martin: No.
Billing Displacement: Both Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko play fairly minor characters with limited screentime but appear in the trailer and on the poster when Linda Bright Clay, Long Nguyen and Zeljko Ivanek don't despite playing arguably more important characters.
Bittersweet Ending: Billy and Hans are both dead, but Charlie is locked up and Marty has finished his screenplay. Whether Marty is actually in a better place is a bit ambiguous.
Black and Gray Morality: There are very few 'good' guys, just people who are not as bad as the others. The heroes, after all, kidnap dogs and scam their owners.
Brainless Beauty: The Hooker in Martin's first draft comes across as a bit of an airhead. Amusingly, in Hans' rewrite she is turned into an intellectual who studied Vietnamese at Yale. Though even here she is turned into a beautiful American woman the Vietnamese monk saw in passing but didn't meet.
Hans' neck scar, which reveals he is the Quaker Psychopath.
Comedic Sociopathy: A Black Comedy-esque take of "comedic." Largely Deconstructed with Billy, who can barely put forward a veneer of superficial charm and who eagerly lies and endangers his friends and lovers in hopes of getting along with them.
Country Matters: Billy uses the term cunt several times over the movie, including as a term for Marty's girlfriend for no real reason.
Even Evil Has Standards: All of the other characters, including the murderous psychopaths, are appalled by Marty's drinking problem. One scene even has Hans, a man pursued by serial killers and high from Peyote abuse, criticizing Marty's use of alcohol:
Hans: You might wanna stop drinking, Martin, if this is the way you're gonna behave. Marty: If this is the way I'm gonna— this guy just telephoned a psycho-killer to come down and psycho-kill us! And this guy's doubting a lifelong belief in the afterlife because of a psychedelic cactus he just ate! And you motherfuckers are telling me to behave?
Charlie: Is he drinking and driving?
Executive Meddling: Bonnie was supposed to die in the original script, but the studio nixed it. This is referenced by Billy when he says, "You can't let the animals die in a movie. Only the women."
Hans also tells Marty to "have some faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior" and resist interrogation when Charlie's mooks have them at gunpoint.
Fake-Out Fade-Out: The movie starts to fade to credits as Marty finishes his screen play and happy music plays, only for the film to continue in a matter of seconds with Zachariah reminding Marty that he forgot his message to Maggie in the credits and he was going to kill him. However, this could be seen as the ending before this one being fake, as Marty has rugged beard here and it is made very clear that he is still in a funk over the events of the film, unlike the other ending where he's living with Bonnie and is cleanly dressed. Zachariah lampshades this a bit and it's made unclear if he's going to kill him or leave him alone now.
Faux Affably Evil: Charlie can be pretty well spoken and have moments of genuine kindness to Bonnie, but he's mentally unstable and will pretty much kill anything that moves.
Foreshadowing: From the point where Hans, Billy and Marty are all in the car, everything they say about what should happen in their screenplay happens in the film, from the main characters "just sitting around talking" to the details and location of the "big shootout."
When Billy tells Martin about the Quaker Psychopath, he mentions that he heard the story from a friend. And in Hans' first scene with Myra, they mention having lost a child.
Fridge Brilliance: In-universe; Billy insists that Gandhi was wrong about an eye for an eye leaving the whole world blind, saying that when all was said in done, there'd still be one guy left with only one eye because the last blind man wouldn't be able to find him to take out his eye in revenge. As they say, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
At one point Billy helps to write a shootout scene for Marty's script; not only do Marty and Hans point out that nobody would trust a villain to come alone, nobody ever expects him to be unarmed either. In the real life ending, however, Charlie actually comes alone and unarmed simply because they told him to.
Hair-Trigger Temper: Charlie when it comes to his dog, Bonnie. Granted, he is a psychopath, but when his dog walker loses his Shih Tzu, he has her hunted down, tied to a chair, and then starts threatening to murder her.He does settle for shooting the wall behind her when she's found innocent, however.
The Heavy: None of the movie would have happened without Billy's actions.
Hidden Depths: All of the main characters, and very nearly all of the side characters.
Billy: His rabbit gets away, because you can't let the animals die in a movie. Just the women.
A meta example exists regarding the original movie ending: the original ending had the Shih Tzu killed off violently, but the executives insisted it was too risky to go with (as even fictional animal cruelty can draw severe backlash), so it was changed.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A whole movie of it. Marty is working on a film called Seven Psychopaths, and the story of the film he's writing is directly inspired by the real events around him, which make up the plot of the real film. Their conversations about their film directly correspond to the actual film they're in.
Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers go into little detail on the screenwriting plot, choosing instead to focus on the dognapping subplot. This probably confused a lot of filmgoers who were expecting a much lighter comedy. Also there's that whole matter of portraying Christopher Walken killing a bunch of folk, despite the fact that he's actually a pacifist who doesn't kill a single person outside of the imagination scene from the screenplay.
Non-Indicative Name: There are only six "psychopaths" in the film. Billy is counted twice. Although you could arguably count Myra as the 7th, since she participated in the same scheme that gets Hans labelled a psychopath.
Marty: (sighs) Yeah... But it's not what I wanna really be writin' about anymore.
Billy: (Beat) Hey new idea how 'bout we change the title from The Seven Psychopaths to The Seven Lesbians Who Are All Disabled And Have Overcome All Their Spazzy Shit And Are Really Nice to Everybody And Two of Them Are Black. How 'bout that?
The Other Darrin: Justified by the dream sequence format: Martin's visualization of the tale of the Quaker psychopath has Harry Dean Stanton in the role. We later learn that it was Hans, played by Christopher Walken.
Pet the Dog: Charlie lets his dog caretaker live after finding out about the scam Billy and Hans run, realizing she wasn't at fault.
Paulo: Put your hands up! Hans: No. Paulo: (beat) What? Hans: I said no. Paulo: Why not? Hans: Because I don't want to. Paulo: (beat) ...But I've got a gun. Hans: I don't care. Paulo: It doesn't make any sense! Hans: (laughing) Too bad.
Real Men Love Jesus: Hans is a very devout old-fashioned Christian. His faith is specifically mentioned as the source of his confidence and tranquility.
Not like those Fox News fucks.
The Reveal: Billy is the Jack of Diamonds and Hans is the Quaker Psychopath.
Revenge by Proxy: Billy kills Charlie's girlfriend after Charlie kills Hans' wife.
The Sociopath: The overwhelming majority of the titular Seven Psychopaths, unsurprisingly. The Quaker is one of the more ethical, while Charlie, Zachariah, Maggie, and especially the Jack of Diamonds are outright frightening.
The Stinger: Zachariah calls up Marty to say that he's going to kill him for not sticking his message to Maggie at the end of his film as promised. Although this scene actually is that message, which is why Zach leaves him alone.
Take That: When Hans eats Peyote and gets a vision of a woman in purgatory:
Marty: Maybe you've just eaten too many hallucinogenic cactuses tonight, Hans. Hans: Nothing to do with the hallucinogens. Marty: But you've just seen [a woman] on a chair with a bullet through her head. Hans: In some gray place. Marty: England? Hans: It seemed a lot worse than that. Marty: [shocked] Wow...
What Happened to the Mouse?: Kaya, other than her appearance in the imaginary shoot out scene, never reappears after kicking Marty out, and we never know if she reconciled with him. Since he's shown still living at Billy's place at the end, it seems unlikely.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Marty is particularly disapproving of the fact that Billy killed a woman. This is foreshadowed in the beginning, when one of the two hitmen asks the other if he's nervous about killing a woman.
Your Head Asplode: In Billy's proposed ending, this happens to Charlie. Lampshaded by Hans and Marty.
Hans: A head can't really explode just because it's shot, right? Marty: It can... if it's filled with explosives.