War on Everyone – Film Review


War on Everyone – Film Review by Pat V.

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

Keen to see yet another buddy movie with corrupt policemen, peppered with sexist and racist jokes, lots of chases (no, not even car chases….these are all on foot!) and bad guys getting killed? Then this is the movie for you. Throw in a plot line that includes porn movies, child abuse and a druggie psychotic English lord who seems to have transported the décor from Downton Abbey to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and you get some of the flavour of this film. On the plus side, the writer didn’t discriminate with his jokes – women, gays, transgender, Muslims, Brits and even the Irish are at the receiving end of his tasteless wit.

Maybe it’s just that I was expecting more from director and writer, John Michael McDonagh. I  enjoyed his previous films, The Guard, and especially, Calvary. There was a coherence and subtlety in both films, enhanced by the taut script and the rounded portrayal of the central character (excellently played by Brendan Gleeson) that is totally lacking here. In moving his story to the USA, McDonagh seems to have lost the plot.

The story, in brief, has Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña playing two bad-ass cops who go around drink driving, snorting cocaine and crashing cars as well as extorting money from everyone around them. From one of their snouts, Reggie (Malcolm Barrett) and his side kick, Pádraic Power (Dermot Wilmot, who is the best thing in this movie) they learn of a proposed racetrack robbery being organised by an English Lord (Theo James) and his creepy sidekick, Birdwell (Caleb Landry Jones), who looks as if he based his character on Dr Frank-N-Furter in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Not wanting to miss out, the two cops try to get in on the action. All kinds of confusion follow, including a trip to Iceland and a sub plot involving domestic violence and child abuse. To be honest, at that stage I gave up on the plot and just hoped that the film would end soon. Fortunately, it’s not too long, 1h38.

McDonagh tries to enliven the dialogue with pseudo philosophical musings from Skarsgård and Peña as they carry on their rampage (reminiscent of John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction) but it always sounds forced and, in the long run, becomes plain irritating.  The musical score includes a lot of Glen Campbell’s hits for some strange reason, one of the most enjoyable parts of the whole experience.

McDonagh’s first foray into the US market isn’t a great success. There is a feeling of déjà vu about the story and a script that tries too hard at being clever. Given his huge talent, lets hope for better things in the future.



Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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