War on Everyone
Starring Michael Peña, Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James, Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones
English/Irish Writer and director John Michael McDonagh’s films all have similar themes: a buddy system, hilarious violence and rough language. His previous film Calvary starring Brenden Gleeson, his most prestigious to date, was critically acclaimed, despite its limited appeal with US audiences. His films certainly are not for everyone, think Guy Richie sensibilities. As he did with Gleeson and Don Cheadle in The Guard, War on Everyone follows two corrupt officers of the law using unorthodox methods to stop criminals. Peña (Crash, The Martian) and Skarsgård (What Maisie Knew, The East) mirror the odd ball coupling seen previously in McDonagh’s stories.
New Mexico police detectives Terry Monroe (Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Peña) have been consistently warned about their illegal antics. They brush off threats of termination, because in their mind the ends justify the means. However, a new case involving a young business man (Theo James) who dabbles in high dollar kiddie porn enrages both officers. Monroe the career bachelor, adopts a young victim, while Bolaño is willing to risk the safety of his family to take down their cities newest criminal. They pressure local sources and affiliates, crash cars through businesses, whatever it takes to get the bad guys.
Peña is one of the rare actors who can so effortlessly switch between comedic roles and dramatic ones.
“You get to shoot people for no reason,” Monroe responds, when asked why he wanted to become a police officer. McDonagh’s script certainly takes major jabs at the current social climate in America regarding law enforcement. Despite the fact these two cops are outwardly corrupt, their hearts are in the right place. That sentiment seems to echo every single character appearing in McDonaugh’s most recent films. He always blurs the lines of good and bad, leaving no moral high ground. It’s the dark comedy, often vulgar, that will repeal most audiences. Like most offensive comedies, War on Everyone literally takes jabs at every culture and creed, spreading the offense around.
The first half of the film is all comedy and no purpose. It feels like a bunch of gags just to introduce the audience to the characters outlandish behavior. However, when James (Divergent) and Landry (X-Men: First Class) give the questionable good guys a reason to enforce the law, the plot becomes more interesting. Peña is one of the rare actors who can so effortlessly switch between comedic roles and dramatic ones. He is one of Hollywood’s most underappreciated supporting actors, despite appearing in 3-4 major films each year. Skarsgård continues to distance himself from the vampire television show that made him famous, choosing smart indie films to build a career on, at least until his blockbuster The Legend of Tarzan movie hits theaters this summer.
A brainy and well written rude and offensive comedy.