Monday 20 February 2017

War On Everyone

You would think we have had enough buddy cop films, wouldn’t you? It’s one of those subgenres of the crime/comedy genre that is absolutely stuffed with repetitive content and little by way of originality. You know the drill – a pair of mismatched cops with differing views or methods get put together to crack a case. Despite not getting on with each other to begin with, they soon learn from each other and become better people – and friends – while they solve the mystery they were assigned to. Boring, right? War On Everyone does things a little different.

War On Everyone follows partners Detective Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Detective Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña), a pair of honest, by-the-books cops…wait. Nope. These two are the most corrupt and inappropriate law enforcers we’ve seen on screen in some time – and they’re bloody hilarious. The film begins with them chasing down a running thief (who happens to be a mime) in their car, and despite cornering him and causing him to essentially surrender – they still run him over at full speed, purely to see if he makes a sound. This starts their story as it means to go on – violent, over-the-top and funny. War On Everyone is not your usual cop film.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the genius behind Calvary and The Guard (and the brother of In Bruges’ Martin), War On Everyone is every bit as dark as you’d expect from a McDonagh. But it’s also every bit as hilarious and unpredictable. The film’s only somewhat predictable element is the plot, as our two anti-heroes uncover something of a conspiracy as they attempt to intimidate a criminal who is even more dangerous and unpredictable than they are – the charming James Mangan (Theo James). Parts of this story go over the viewer’s head due to a rather inconsistent delivery but it doesn’t matter, because even if the film’s story was awful, the humour and style would still be enough to recommend it. 

Firstly, Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña are just perfect as the volatile Terry and Bob – their banter and chemistry is spot-on and their deadpan delivery of such inappropriate dialogue is hilarious. If War On Everyone ever became a TV show, I’d tune in every week for these guys. It takes a brave actor to do something so dark and un-politically correct. These two rise to the challenge and pass it with flying colours! A McDonagh film succeeds on the strength of its darkly hilarious screenplay, and these two characters have some of the best dialogue the McDonagh family have put out to date. “I knew your last words would be shit”, Terry says as he shoots a pleading man through the head. Dark, yes. Funny? Absolutely.

The film’s style is worthy of praise here, too, with the wipe transitions and funky score acting as a charming homage to cop stories of the 1970s – Starsky and Hutch comes to mind, and is even subtly referenced in dialogue. The film’s kinetic energy is infectious, with the quick pace keeping the fun moving at a brisk pace. As I mentioned before, the narrative is a little inconsistent, but this pacing means any low moments in the film (and there are few) are moved along very quickly and the quick-fire dialogue means a laugh is always just around the corner. Oh, and Glen Campbell fans will be happy. He’s used wonderfully throughout.

War On Everyone met a rather mixed reception upon release – maybe it was the narrative issues I have discussed, or perhaps it was a little too inappropriate for some of the more fragile viewers. But maybe, just maybe, it just went over a lot of people’s heads. War On Everyone is different to the mainstream drivel of today’s cinema, and some viewers aren’t prepared to accept it. They don’t like change. Well, I for one am all for it – and I can confidently tell you that if you’re like me, you’ll love War On Everyone. It’s hilarious, dark and full of energy. In an ideal world, this would be the beginning of a franchise. 

War On Everyone isn’t necessarily going to please everyone, but for those with a more twisted sense of humour, it’s a hell of a ride. 


Sam Love

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