War On Everyone - This Movie Almost Rocks, Doesn't Quite Get There
Dir: John Michael McDonagh
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Pena, Paul Reiser, Theo James, Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones
McDonagh takes a break from his more familiar territory – and indeed proposed Brendan Gleeson trilogy (The Guard, Calvary, and...??) – for a side turn into a tale of corrupt cops and meta referencing. (The two central characters even tell you how great the end song is – which would be a mistake if it wasn’t The Clash.) It has its moments for sure, but lacks the surety of McDonagh’s other movies, verging from absurdity to a post-modern sense of wit that others have captured far better before him.
Skarsgard and Pena are said two corrupt New Mexican cops who appear to operate in a world totally their own, speaking philosophically and arguing over philosophers, while shaking down every low-life in sight and listening to the best of Glen Campbell. (The very best by the way – it’s a great soundtrack.) This works splendidly when the movie opens with them chasing a coke-carrying mime who is unwilling to make a sound when hit by a car, and when they decamp to Iceland in search of a runaway villain (a brief sequence which features by far the film’s best gag.)
But, as these two scenes suggest, the film has a tendency to verge. And rarely seamlessly or even comfortably. McDonagh seems to want to play some sort of politically incorrect game, but slips constantly into a quirky kind of absurdism that never really gels. At times he even seems to be aping his younger brother Martin, and his Seven Psychopaths, a film that found an altogether more satisfying groove for itself.
Pena acquits himself well, but Skarsgard is playing in a key that only his ear is attuned to and their chemistry is only weakly there in brief flashes.
War On Everyone (still a great title) will make you laugh. But not consistently. More in a random manner – much like the randomness of the film itself.
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