New Mexico police detectives Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) spend their days shaking down criminals for some extra cash. When “Lord” James Mangan (Theo James), an international businessman-come-arms-dealer, gets their attention, they risk their badges and lives to do what’s right. And make a million dollars.
Peña and Skarsgård are great as the dirty, but moral cops. Monroe is an alcoholic punching machine, his signet ring was a gift from his mother for “knocking out criminal pieces of shit like you.”
Bolaño spends his nights debating with his wife, and Mexican wrestling with his kids he seems to hate.
Bolaño is the brains of the operation, a family man with two kids he doesn’t seem to care for, and a beautiful wife he needs to keep amused. I thought the two actors were fantastic together, but the film is a little skimpy on actual plot and character development. Skarsgård is surly with a tortured past, Peña likes philosophy. That’s your lot for background.
Caleb Landry Jones plays the thoroughly despicable henchman to the villain. I have to single him out for praise because I haven’t seen such a skin-crawling bad guy on screen for a long time. He comes off as a paedo, Bowie enthusiast who gets his kicks inflicting pain. A truly horrible dramatic invention. He made my stomach turn!
Tessa Thompson was great in the (unfortunately) thin role as Monroe’s ex-stripper love interest. Although she doesn’t get much to do, or a lot of script to chew on, she shows her acting chops as well as she did in “Creed”. She definitely has a bright future in this old acting lark.
Paul Reiser gets some great lines as the put-upon police captain; continually advising the pair of misanthropic cops just how much violence can be inflicted on suspects.
The film is absolutely rammed with Glen Campbell music (Monroe’s favourite singer). This leads to quite a few amusing music cues, and a good bit of chat about the man himself. I’m always down for some Glen, so I enjoyed that.
The cinematography was fantastic, very reminiscent of Michael Mann in parts. Kudos to Bobby Bukowski. The film looked great!
I did have some problems, the film’s paper thin plot for one. For some folks, I’m guessing this won’t be a problem as the film is fast-moving (with some time for breath every so often), but I’m talking straight-to-video action film levels of plot. Some more development would’ve been nice.
The quick-fire nature of the comedy also grates after a while. Yes, it is funny when the duo berate crying victims, or make racist comments to suspects, but it really gets overplayed. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a sick joke, but when you beat the shock button again and again it gets tiresome.
I wouldn’t say I’m an overly deep or intelligent guy, but the attempts at depth just come across as a little forced, and dare I say it, smug. It’s like the film wants to be a dumb knockaround comedy, but can’t quite lower its high standards of writing that far. Bolaño and his wife (played by Stephanie Sigman) spend their nights discussing philosophy for absolutely no reason. It doesn’t serve the plot or characters, and just seems like a little extra for the people who want to feel safe in the knowledge that although they are watching a buddy-cop action movie, it’s one for the educated folk, not those dirty Seagal and Van Damme fans.
Overall, I liked War On Everyone. There were a couple of (almost) film-breaking points for me, but I can let them slide this time. War on Everyone has likeable leads, great music, and enough dark laughs to sustain its runtime.
Another decent black comedy from McDonagh. This is fast becoming his area of expertise. If you’ve seen The Guard, you know what to expect.