WAR ON EVERYONE
FILM REVIEW - WAR ON EVERYONE
Running Length: 97 minutes
Release Date: 7th October 2016
Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James, Tessa Thompson
Screenplay by: John Michael McDonagh
Director of Cinematography: Bobby Bukowski
It should come with a Government health warning instead of an IFCO rating.
During the promotional tour for his last movie, Calvary, John Michael McDonagh (the Fredo Corleone of the McDonagh clan) caused a minor kerfuffle by slating the Irish film industry. His comments came of as a tad ungrateful, considering he’d already taken €1.7m in funding from the Irish Film Board. But if War On Everyone is any indication of where his career is going, he needn’t worry. If McDonagh keeps churning out material of this standard, he’ll be lucky to get his next project funded through Kickstarter.
War on Everyone is not a movie; it’s an unrelated assortment scenarios sketched out on beermats and cobbled together into 90 messy minutes. There’s a vague story here somewhere, but it’s so poorly conceived and underbaked that it scarcely bears mentioning. Something about a pair of dirty cops (Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña), a non-dimensional villain (Theo James), and a ludicrously camp henchman (Caleb Landry Jones) who McDonagh appears to have directed to act like Snagglepuss. One sequence links to the next without any logical connection or thread. And for no good reason whatsoever, the action up sticks from Albuquerque to Iceland for about 10 minutes. Tax breaks, perhaps?
You’d be hard pressed to find a buddy cop movie with less chemistry between the two leads. Peña and Skarsgård are more than capable, but here they may as well be performing from within individual glass boxes. And my god… the dialogue! Like an affected first year arts student drop-out conspicuously carrying around copies of unread books, McDonagh doesn’t care about substance, just as long as he gives off the appearance of looking intelligent. Pretentious literary and philosophical references are peppered throughout the script with all the subtlety of a hammer dropped into a tin bucket. The farcical dialogue serves no function other than to have characters react to how farcical the dialogue is. You have to pity the actors, but at least Brendan Gleeson escaped.
I haven’t even gotten to the no-minority-left-behind bigotry. The whole sorry shambles is so cynical – so utterly malignant – that it should come with a Government health warning instead of an IFCO rating. I doubt even McDonagh himself knows who or what he’s laughing at anymore. But the joke is certainly on his audience. If War on Everyone had been the debut feature from an unknown director, it’s unlikely that they’d get a second chance.
Keep as far away as possible. You have been warned.