All the roles, big and small, are exceedingly well cast and the performances are a large part of why the movie stands up to repeat viewings. Colin Farrell is the relatively mild mannered straight man, the calm at the center of the storm. Woody Harrelson taps into a menace that makes for an effective contrast with his dog-loving sensibilities. The real loose cannon of the bunch is Sam Rockwell, who infuses a playful glee in nearly all his line readings (and I love that Billy’s apparently a fan of Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot Comics—he not only has a poster of the Carrot hanging in his place, but also a figure on his desk). Standing above them all, however, is Christopher Walken. Far lesser performances have received Oscar recognition. Rather than wallowing in self-parody as he sometimes has in recent years, Walken digs in deep, making Hans the wounded soul of the movie.
It’s far from perfect, as McDonagh seems to lose his footing about an hour in when he sends Marty, Billy, and Hans to the desert. The pace slows and the meta aspects begin to reach self-indulgent levels as the unlikely trio of friends begin discussing how the movie, or rather Marty’s movie, should end. I’ve never been much of a fan of this sort of self-aware plotting as it can come across as a cop out, as in, “I don’t know where to take this story, I’ve painted myself into a corner, so I’ll just try to cleverly subvert conventions as a substitute for actually thinking the story through.” Yes, Seven Psychopaths stumbles a bit, but McDonagh manages to recover with another socko twist, this one involving a Vietnamese Priest (Long Nguyen) introduced earlier. It seems McDonagh set out to continuously tweak audience expectations and he never fails to add what Hans calls “layers” to his funhouse contraption of a story.
Seven Psychopaths’s 1080p transfer, framed at 2.40:1, offers a remarkably strong image. Ben Davis’ 35mm cinematography is displayed with all the detail one hopes for in a high definition presentation. The desert scenes in the second half—dominated by barren, beige landscapes and cloudless, blue skies—look outstanding, with slightly oversaturated colors and perfect contrast levels. For a film with such vivid performances, it’s vital that we see every emotional nuance on the actors’ faces. This transfer doesn’t disappoint, allowing us to see every twitch in Walken’s lined face. An absolutely terrific visual experience.