War On Everyone Review

War On Everyone

When you watch as many films as I do, you get into the habit of learning as little as you can before seeing them.

That way they can still surprise you, and you won’t end up as one of those jaded and deeply cynical film reviewing types.

Having seen War On Everyone, I’m considering revising my approach.

We’re introduced to our cop buddies through a stylised car chase that ends with a mime being run down, just to see if he’ll make a noise.

I don’t remember which of our anti-heroes won this particular wager, but that doesn’t matter – all you need to know is detectives Monroe and Bolano are funny, cool and don’t care about the consequences of their actions.

Cut to a police station, where our cops are being chewed out by their captain and given a final warning – but it’s ok because neither of them give a damn.

We’re never told why, but I guess it’s because they’re supposed to be cool.

And this logic, for what it is, can pretty much be applied to every scene of War On Everyone.

There’s no characterisation, there’s no plot, there’s just Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena going around looking and sounding cool.

It was only by the end of War On Everyone that I realised why our anti-heroes do the corrupt things that they do.

Well, that and because it’s meant to be pretty badass – the problem is you simply don’t care how bad or good these guys are, because their characters are so clichéd.

Skarsgard walks around permanently hunched over and permanently angry; there are numerous hints of a troubled past he’s lived through that have made him like this, neither of which are ever explored or explained.

Nor is his predilection for Glen Campbell.

Pena’s character has a family, so I suppose he’s meant to be the more grounded of the two buddies, yet he doesn’t actually have any redeeming qualities an audience can relate to or identify with.

Then there are the baddies, which include a handsome British lord come well to do criminal mastermind, and his camp sometimes eye-patch wearing sidekick.

That’s about all we ever get to know about these mediocre James Bond villain types.

Basically, if everyone died at the end of War On Everyone, I wouldn’t have cared one jot.

And the maddest thing of all is this film is written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the brilliantly twisted mind behind The Guard and Calvary.

The best things about his two previous films? Their clever plots and the nuanced characterisation of their protagonists.

War On Everyone ends up feeling like something McDonagh did on a dare, just to see if he could make a good film without doing what he’s really good at.

He hasn’t, although there are still plenty of scenes that made me laugh – thankfully, McDonagh’s rapid fire dialogue is one of his trademarks that hasn’t got lost in translation.

Sadly, none of these mean anything because you simply don’t care about the characters – and that goes double for the climactic stand off that awkwardly crowbars a ‘this time it’s personal’ theme into proceedings.

War On Everyone feels horribly rushed, so I’m hoping McDonagh revises his latest approach to film-making and gets back to doing what he does best.

Jonathan Campbell

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October 2016
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