MOVIE REVIEW: War On Everyone

Two corrupt and idiotic detectives find themselves in the middle of the rise to power of an English Lord in American who is trying his hand at crime. The seedy underbelly of New Mexico is shown to be full of criminal activity and most of that crime is from those charged with the safety of the public. Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard play the cops and Theo James plays the English Lord who is stealing money.

I want to say that I’m a fan of John Michael McDonagh, his previous two films The Guard and Calvary, well they were far from perfect, but they had this twisted slant on Irish life that you just saw in reality. We have a very different view of the world here and we don’t take kindly to someone coming in from the outside and telling us we’re wrong. I think Calvary is my fave of his work as it just hit on the nerve that is poking out from the last twenty odd years that Irish Catholic Priests have to answer for. So when I heard that he was going to America to make a cop movie and that Pena and Skarsgard were going to be corrupt, drunken, and horrible police detectives well lets just say my heart jumped with joy. Which I had to get checked out, my Doctor seems to think a heart shouldn’t do that, but that’s a different story.download

The easiest way to describe this film fairly, for me, to call it Starsky and Hutch but imagine the loveable crime fighting duo, that most of you might only remember from that horrid Ben Stiller film, being majorly demented, warped, and unfit for service. Skarsgard’s character is a total alcoholic, while Pena plays a cop who is also a family man, and he’s not that nice to any member of the family. Theo James plays the English Lord, a villain who you don’t quite understand the reasoning for his actions, other than to be evil. He’s a businessman with his finger in many pies, from legitimate to illegal, and just wants to be evil. I have to give James credit here though as he’s moved from the pretty boy parts that seem to plague his career and go into more character acting. He’s never going to be amazing in anything but I love that he’s trying. Stand out performance of the film is Tessa Thompson who plays former stripper Jackie, thoughtful and stunning, her role here is perfect for her.

The problem I have with War on Everyone is simple, it’s not fantastic, it’s just okay. I laughed through a lot of it, but instantly forgot about what I was laughing at, right now less than twelve hours after watching it, I’m struggling to remember the jokes. The different scenes are fine but they feel like half hour parts of a TV sitcom. There is very little tying things together. Then for some reason, maybe just that they had the money left over in the budget, they find themselves in Iceland. You get the feeling that McDonagh was going for a Pulp Fiction vibe, he can write a great movie, but sadly this one isn’t it. It fails to be worthy of brain space, the performances are all fine, the Glen Campbell heavy soundtrack reminds you of the great songs that Mr. Campbell has released in his life, and the set dressing and wardrobe have done a great job. The failure is on the shoulder of Mr. McDonagh alone as a string of different scenes with the same characters does not make a solid movie.

I hope that McDonagh can return to form with his next venture, I’m the guy that shows up at every movie with hope in his heart, and I’ll put this one down to a mid table slip up, so I’ll be there back row on the aisle for the next written and directed by effort from McDonagh. This is fine with a few drinks, a few mates, and just tuning out the world. For a twisted buddy cop movie its fine entertainment but you’ll leave the cinema feeling as though they missed more than they hit. If I knew about sports I could make a team reference there but I’ll leave that up to the more knowledgeable among you.

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James, Stephanie Sigman, Michael Peña

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