War On Everyone

Director: John Michael McDonagh.
Screenplay: John Michael McDonagh.
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Tessa Thompson, Theo James, Paul Reiser, Caleb Landry Jones, Malcolm Barrett, David Wilmot, Stephanie Sigman.

“He called me a ‘wet back’! He knows damn well I was born here. He is a big fat racist pig is what he is”

After two brilliant outings with The Guard and Calvary, all eyes were on Irish writer/director John Michael McDonagh’s third feature. There’s a problem though, and that problem is the same one that plagued his brother Martin when he delivered the woefully misjudged Seven Psychopaths after his successful debut In Bruges. Martin’s problem was heading straight for Hollywood while forgetting to take a coherent script with him and this film has a similar sense of déjà vu. 

Plot: Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) are two cops who are just as corrupt as the criminals they arrest. However, when they try and shake down a strip club owner, they stumble on an even bigger crime lord.

Leaving behind the idyllic coasts of Ireland, McDonagh’s third film focuses on the sun kissed streets of L.A. where he delivers a generic buddy/cop story. He attempts to play with conventions a little by throwing in some one liners that are sure to cause offence with some minority or other but the jokes are strained and few, if any, work at all. You might think that if the humour doesn’t fly then you’ll find something else to grab your interest but there isn’t anything. The story lacks drive and there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. In fact, most recently Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe tread the same ground with The Nice Guys with much more entertaining results.

I actually felt sorry for Skarsgård and Peña; they are two gifted actors but there’s no material here to work with and, together, they simply lack chemistry. There’s also no attempt, whatsoever, to craft a three dimensional villain. What we get in this respect is strictly a stereotype with Theo James’ upper-class nasty attitude and posh English accent. Some vibrancy is attempted with the introduction of Caleb Landry Jones’ flamboyant strip-club owner but the only colour he injects is his bright yellow socks. It’s actually hard to believe that this was the same person who wrote and directed the sublime Calvary – one of my favourite films of 2014.

An absolutely pointless and messy endeavour that suffers horrendously from a lazy script. In fact, to quote the film itself, “it starts and ends with the script. If you ain’t got a good script, you ain’t got shit“. Wise words but it’s just a shame that McDonagh didn’t pay heed to them.

Mark Walker

Trivia: The director said when Garrett Hedlund dropped out 3 weeks before shooting began, he was given a list of 6 actors he could potentially choose from, 3 he dropped immediately. He went on to choose Skarsgard because of a YouTube video he saw of him drunk at a football match, in which he’s trying to whip the rest of the crowd in a freenzy as he thought they were being too quiet. He thought this made him perfect for the role of Terry.

20 Responses to “War On Everyone”

  1. Holy crap, second negative review of this and I loved The Guard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a huge fan of The Guard too, Lloyd. Calvary was also in my top TWO films of 2014. I loved it that much. War on Everyone is a mess, though. It reminded me of Seven Psychopaths and how incoherent and messy that was. I wanted to like it but it gave me nothing to hold on to.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oy, that’s disappointing to hear, as THE GUARD and CALVARY were two of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah what a shame man. I gotta say the reviews have not been kind to this one. Don’t know if I have any interest in checking this out. Hopefully he can bounce back after this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Michael Pena but this movie was just bad, and worse, a bore.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This chimes with what I’ve heard about McDonough’s latest. Shame really as Calvary was one of my favourites from a couple of years ago. Back to the drawing board methinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Along with Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, I was torn for my favourite film of 2104. Calvary was the other one. I loved it that much.

      This was a real stinker, though. It was dull, man. Just dull!


  6. Well, after seeing this, finally (streaming on Netflix), I could see only a few positives. An occasional funny or clever line or plotpoint, woefully with either a poor or not existent follow-up, and some beautiful cinematography, which made all the rest in the film maddeningly wasteful. At least it featured some great tunes by Glen Campbell. That and the fact the storyline majorly cribs from Richard Rush’s FREEBIE AND THE BEAN (1974), this was a big comedown for the writer-director I had high hopes for.

    p.s., if Tom Cruise ever let’s go Lee Child’s Jack Reacher literary character on film, Alexander Skarsgård and his physical presence would be perfect in the role. Just sayin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it was pretty dire, Michael. I had very high hopes for this but it’s hard to believe that it’s the same director who made the sublime Calvary and The Guard. I honestly couldn’t get my head around how bad this was.

      Good catch on Skarsgard for Jack Reacher. That would be a fine bit of casting. I’m a big fan of Skarsgard. I do hope this piece of nonsense doesn’t set him back.

      Liked by 1 person

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