War on Everyone (2016) Review

Rating: C+

The third feature film made by John Michael McDonagh (‘The Guard’, ‘Calvary’). A buddy cop comedy, with different elements from other movies like Lethal Weapon, Starsky and Hutch and some Shane Black movies. It delivers us the feeling of the 70’s with its style of directing. We get hilarious ‘don’t give a shit’ attitudes between Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña and funny philosophical dialogues throughout the movie. But also it is full with buddy cop clichés and annoying characters that is not fun to watch.

Two corrupt cops, Detective Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Detective Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña), in New Mexico set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. While working for precinct chief (Paul Reiser), these two cops are given one last chance to be good cops. Things take a sinister turn, however, when they try to intimidate someone who is more dangerous than they are.


The movie starts off really well, giving us joke after joke. But the jokes start to be lesser going to the end. We get some quite funny jokes from Michael Peña, who I think is in his place – delivering comedy. With his funny one liners and philosophical dialogues, he is the stand out of the movie. After seeing him in Crash and End of Watch, I could watch him in any movie that he is in. I was quite surprised that Alexander Skarsgård was that funny but the overall performance was a little stiff. The chemistry between the lead actors were fun to watch – they both delivered fast talk, drug using scenes that were hilarious. The downside of these two characters was that we don’t get to know them that much. We know what Bob Bolaño is a family man that will care for his kids and wife always, and who Terry Monroe is – an alcoholic, though guy, punching everybody in the face. Of course they are cops too. But we don’t know why they are so corrupt and why they don’t do any stuff that good cops do. There just ain’t no development of these characters. We can’t forget to mention other actors that stood out in the movie – David Wilmot as Pádraic Power and Malcolm Barrett as Reggie is the other stand out comedy duo in the movie. You will just love the interactions between them both and between Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård.

With the movie came also few characters that were not that memorable. Like Theo James (‘Divergent’, ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’) – the English Businessman Lord James Mangan – we don’t get to know this character that much and his present is not felt, even if he is the main bad guy – at least when he was on screen, he gave a good performance. And then theirs Caleb Landry Jones (‘X-Men: First Class’, ‘Contraband’) playing Birdwell- sexually indeterminate strip-club boss, who has to deal with the two main characters – I don’t know why but I didn’t enjoy this character at all throughout the movie. His performance felt a little eccentric for me – but at least he stood out more than Theo James character.


Let’s get a little bit into the script. With just being a standard buddy cop story – almost like all buddy cop movies – except for intense drug use. A lot happened in the 97-minute running time – catching a mime, traveling to Iceland, getting drunk at a club and more corrupt cop stuff. And it went all over places, it was not that hard to follow but still it felt little chaotic. Few scenes looked like they were edited too fast and cut short, It would been better to have longer scenes to understand what is happening. There also were a lot of plot holes that made the movie sometimes confusing and I started to question few things – like one thing being: how can you be shit faced drunk, crashing your car in other cars in one scene and in the next scene you are driving straight through the highway without a problem? Just tell me how?

While knowing nothing about past works from the director John Michael McDonagh, I will judge only by this movie. He did a good job in delivering a great feeling of the 1970’s. Cinematographer Bobby Bukowski used well the landscapes that we see and with the use of old retro cars by the main characters and the old school soundtrack – we felt like being in the 70’s. But sometimes the movie was wrong. With giving so many clichés that it got really boring and predictable, because all the other buddy cop movies have done the same things. John Michael McDonagh also put a lot of imagination in how a corrupt cops act in America (this is his first American feature film). Sometimes felt that it goes overboard with corruptness of the two main characters. In real life it doesn’t happen like that. Yeah, Yeah, I know, I know, this is a movie – it’s not real life. But sometimes you want some realism, even if it is a comedy.


War on Everyone is not perfect and there are greater buddy cop movies like The Nice Guys. This entry from John Michael McDonagh is rougher in comedy – they are not shy to make outrageous or stereotypical jokes. Still the movie will bring the laughs when it is needed. I would recommend the movie if you love buddy cop/comedy genre, but don’t put that much thought in the plot.

Running time: 97 minutes; Production companies: Reprisal Films, Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, Metrol Technology; Distributed by: Saban Films; Genre: Comedy;

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh; Produced by: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross; Written by: John Michael McDonagh; Cinematography: Bobby Bukowski; Music: Lorne Balfe; Edited by: Chris Gill;

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James, Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones, and many more.


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