Film Review: War on Everyone

war-on-everyoneeFrances Winston feels that this is the type of movie that you have to pay attention to or you may miss an important plot point

Directed by: John Michael McDonagh – Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James, Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones

After the success of his first two movies, The Guard and Calvary, to say that there are high hopes for this latest offering from John Michael McDonagh is an understatement.

Add two of Hollywood’s hottest actors into the mix, and the excitement becomes even more palpable. McDonagh may not be prolific, but he has developed a reputation as a solid writer/director.

Where his previous two offerings were set in Ireland, this one shifts the action to New Mexico, where corrupt cops, Terry Munroe (Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Peña) top up their income by blackmailing and ripping off the very criminals they are supposed to be catching.

Literally partners in crime, they agree to collect the proceeds from a big heist they learn is due to happen. However, they don’t realise that the people behind it are in a different league to the street thugs they usually deal with, and the pair suddenly find themselves caught in the kind of crossfire they have never encountered before.

When a movie opens with a cop car chasing a mime (yes an actual mime) you know that, at the very least, it is going to have one or two humorous moments. McDonagh once again brings his trademark black humour to the table, and both Skarsgård and Peña seem to relish in it.

Although they are ‘bad cops’, they both essentially have good hearts, so you find yourself rooting for them. It helps that the bad guys are so outrageously bad that even at their worst, Terry and Bob are literally the lesser of the two evils.

Theo James, playing the superbad James Mangan, is so over the top that you actually look forward to the moment that he gets his comeuppance. There are also several rather ridiculous characters that would seem entirely out of place in a movie by any other director. Even the violence has a touch of the slapstick about it. However, McDonagh manages to create such an eccentric world, that it seems perfectly normal here.

You can see shades of other famous cop duo pairings throughout this, from Starsky and Hutch to Riggs and Murtagh, to everything before and after. After all, the buddy cop movie is a tried and tested formula that works with audiences. What McDonagh brings to the genre are the depth and dimension of the characters that are usually lacking. Skarsgård and Peña make a great pairing, and bounce off each other as if they have been working together for years.

This is extremely fast-paced. Blink and you will literally miss an important plot point. As with all McDonagh’s writing, there is no fluff, and absolutely everything that happens is relevant to the story. Hilarious, and with a lot of heart, this is as good if not better than his previous offerings, and is sure to become a modern classic.

If you want some laughs, backed up by the kind of story that demands your full attention, this is the movie for you.

In Cinemas Now!

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