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War on Everyone (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

WAR ON EVERYONE

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

Plot: Two corrupt cops set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Events, however, are complicated by the arrival of someone who appears to be even more dangerous than they are.
IMDB Score: 5.9
Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Why I watched it: I was on the fence with this one, I had seen the trailer and thought it looked alright, at first I heard good things but then there was a kind of backlash saying on violent and vile all the characters were, I decided to give it a go.
Random thoughts: Just to get it out of the way, this is a tricky film to review cause it’s a few genres rolled into one and it really feels like a throwback movie to me, late 80’s early 90’s, gritty, not PC at all and the good guys are more anti heroes or less bad than the guys they go up against and even with everything going on some vile shit happens there’s a lot of humor to it, dark but there’s some laughs.  This one is not for everyone that’s for sure.

What I liked: The biggest thing for me that worked is the two main characters played by Skarsgard and Pena, their not just types or cliches, they’re not defined by being cops or corrupt.  Now there’s a lot of violence, swearing and some vile things going on in this film but for me it’s a character study, not only the two main characters but their friendship.  They don’t talk about it but these guys love each as friends, there’s a couple of times when other people say some bad things to one about the other and you can tell it not only pisses them off but they don’t buy it. For all this film is I think it does a good job of not over talking some of the big points, they don’t talk about their friendship, their home lives, they feel like real people in these lives not just written for a plot device.

For my money Michael Pena is one of the best actors working today, one of the most versatile and underrated he’s played in almost every genre you could think of the funny thing here he does have the big arc it’s Skarsgard.  One thing I like about his film is that it starts out as a buddy cop film, granted corrupt cops, I want to make this clear they only screw around with bad guys, their not Bad Lieutenant bad, they’re in it for the money.  Things change as the case they’re chasing brings them into contact with some different people.  Skarsgard character is almost always drinking and we find out he lives alone in a big house, Pena is married with two kids.

We also find out Skarsgard character has some demons, he ends up dating a girl he meets and also picking up a boy who’s mother killed his father, now the thing that surprised me about the film is that in this action genre they kind of include some really touching subjects and we find Skarsgard might have something in common with the boy.  For me their’s a heart to this film, a twisted heart but it’s there.  The bad guys in this film at least the two main ones are vile, I’ll give Theo James credit here cause he’s playing against type and he underplays, he doesn’t run around over the top he’s a spooky, creepy guy.  Caleb Landry Jones is right out of the 70’s with his look and performance and he out creeps James.

What I didn’t like: Tone is it’s biggest problem, like I said it’s tricky, some people are going to be turned off cause it’s not black and white, this is a very dark grey film.  Sometimes the film is hurt by it’s sense of humor considering what else is going on.  As much as I like the character work here I do feel Pena’s character could have been fleshed out more, we know he’s married with two boys and they seem to have a good relationship, but besides providing for his family we don’t really know why he does what he does.  Skarsgard is a wounded animal, a broken toy and he kind of follows, he’s looking for a family.  Now this is done with a lot of subtext I think the film would have been better if it toned down some of the “cool action” stuff and dealt even more with the motivations.

Final thoughts: One think I didn’t mention is I did find the film funny at times, there’s some fun bits, they follow this lead to Iceland, and suddenly their in Iceland dressed the same and freezing their asses off.  For me this is a film you are either on board for or not, some people are going to be turned off and rightfully so but I liked enough of it to go along for the ride.

Rating: 7/10

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War on Everyone (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

WAR ON EVERYONE

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

The third film (not counting a short called The Second Death) from English Director John Michael McDonagh after The Guard and Calvary. War on Everyone is a sharp, funny and deliberately offensive comedy written by McDonagh also.

Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) and Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) are two bent cops who blackmail criminals all over town. The two of them drive about in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo with their type of justice the order of the day (just not the kind of justice their Lieutenant Gerry Stanton, played by the brilliant Paul Reiser (Mad About You & Beverley Hills Cop) would approve of).

Some of the humour is in your face and obvious and some of the funniest moments are observational. During one scene in particular the crime fighting partners are on a stakeout eating burgers. When it’s time to intervene, Terry kicks in the door to the house, guns in position, they still have the burgers they were eating in their other hands. They find a man slumped on the floor bleeding with a knife in his stomach and the mans wife sat there screaming much to the annoyance of Bob and still, yes that’s right…eating their burgers. I know this may not be everyones kind of humour but I thought it was silly funny.

Some of the one liners will tickle you and one that springs to mind is when Terry and Bob show photographs to their informant Reggie (Malcolm Barrett) who quick wittingly says “who took these pictures? An epileptic?” berating the quality of Terry’s camera skills.

Michael Peña (Ant-Man and The Martian) is excellent as Bob Bolaño and is well suited to the role. His one liners will have you laughing (especially his conversations with his kids and the way he treats them) his character is excellent with his screen wife, (Stephanie Sigman) and the film would have benefited greatly by more of their on screen chemistry.

Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan and Zoolander 2) brings a deadpan character to his role of Glen Campbell obsessed Terry, who became a policeman because “you can shoot people for no reason”.

Skarsgård shows that given a half decent script he might even be able to deliver the goods as there is some good comedic moments, but other times he came across a little awkward next to Pena, who is much more suited to the comedic role.

I can’t review War on Everyone without mentioning the whole host of colourful characters supporting Terry and Bob from Tessa Thompson’s Jackie Hollis, Reggie, the informant (Malcolm Barrett), the strange Russell Birdwell (Caleb Landry Jones) and The bearded Paddy Power (David Wilmot), but unfortunately at times it made the story feel like a disjointed and segmented from scene to scene whenever the supporting characters appeared apart from every scene with Malcolm Barrett who delivered every time with some memorable one liners.

The grainy cinematography by Bobby Bukowski (Arlington Road) had a blend of a 1970s vibe mixed together with Tarantino edge to it in the style of Death Proof, which is heightened by John Michael McDonagh’s possibly overusing wipe effects.

War on Everyone is not for everyone as it is a bit over the place at times if I’m being honest, but certainly, the movie is funny and has enough to enjoy it for Peña alone and worth at least one watch.