Title – War on Everyone (2016)
Director – John Michael McDonagh (Calvary)
Cast – Michael Pena, Alexander Skarsgård, Tessa Thompson, Theo James, Caleb Landry Jones
Plot – Corrupt cops Bob Balano (Pena) and Terry Monroe (Skarsgard) set about to blackmail a criminal organisation but their plan doesn’t go so smoothly and Bob and Terry quickly find themselves in a life or death predicament.
“You know what they say – always be open to new experiences”
Review by Eddie on 13/09/2017
Back in 2014, U.K based director John Michael McDonagh gave us Calvary.
A follow-up to his well-regarded, if little seen dark comedy The Guard, Calvary saw McDonagh reteaming with his leading man Brendan Gleeson to deliver a refreshingly unique and utterly captivating experience that had many justifiably excited for what the promising director would dish up next.
Taking his time before treating us to his next feature length experience, it’s with great disappointment that McDonagh’s Calvary follow-up is War on Everyone, a film that wants you to desperately like its politically incorrect and unashamedly seedy “comedic” look at Michael Pena’s and Alexander Skarsgard’s loose unit police officers Bob Balano and Terry Monroe as they traverse a barely their story of criminals and corrupt cops, filled with Glen Campbell classics, sprinklings of hard-core violence and a script that wishes it was written by Quintin Tarantino.
Both The Guard and Calvary found a great balance between dramatic ticks, storyline and comedic moments (most darkly morbid and totally politically incorrect) but War on Everyone never once nails it’s convoluted components and it really feels as though McDonagh is clutching at straws in his first Hollywood picture, rather than walking his own beat like he did with his impressive one-two debut films.
There are moments within the film where characters ramble about the importance of scripts in films and how they’re the making or breaking of what makes a great film so it’s clear McDonagh knows the importance of a good script (although he is responsible for writing the 2003 misfire Ned Kelly) and it’s something we know his capable of but the failings of War on Everyone are never more evident in how experienced and well regarded actors like Pena and Skarsgard deliver their lines without energy or life as they meander about McDonagh’s shady story.
Both these characters are neither likeable, nor are they interesting enough to make us dislike them, they’re just not appealing in general. Perhaps had the film included a story with any form of mystery or villains that steal the show we might’ve cared more but trying to enliven the film with misguided romantic sub-plots or bizarrely towards the end of proceedings a child exploitation plot device, McDonagh doesn’t seem comfortable in his world, a facet that was certainly not the case in his early works.
Final Say –
If you’ve ever thought that the idea of two deadbeat cops running down a mime in their patrol car, taking drugs with informants or talking about cinematic auteur Steven Soderbergh is the stuff of movie magic then the War on Everyone might just be your new favourite comedy but for the rest of us, McDonagh’s extremely disappointing and criminally unfunny film is cause for concern for a filmmaker that has the talent to be anything, both great or bad.
1 Icelandic getaway out of 5