By Adam Ray Palmer
I think this is more than likely the funniest film of the festival, if not 2016 so far. The fourth film I am reviewing is War on Everyone.
John Michael McDonagh’s picture stars Alexander Skarsgard, Michel Pena, Theo James and Tessa Thompson. This time, no Brendan Gleeson to be seen!
John Michael has had two stellar films before War on Everyone and he hopes to add this one to his impressive canon...
War on Everyone follows two corrupt cops in New Mexico who set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Things take a sinister turn, however, when they try to intimidate someone who is more dangerous than they are.
From the first few scenes, you know exactly what you’re getting from this ‘buddy cop’ film. It’s a cross between Starsky and Hutch and 21 Jump Street with a bit of Tarantino style filmmaking chucked in. It’s like a Kick Ass kind of Bad Boys movie set in the 70s yet present day – I’ve lost you all haven’t I?
War on Everyone is as quirky as it is funny. It has a dark, witty humour behind its narrative which makes this film bounce along it’s run time. McDonagh makes this film a laugh-a-minute movie that even has you wincing at some of the jokes. A tennis scene where Skarsgard plays against two ladies in Bhurkas is knuckle-bitingly amusing.
The film is high-octane and relentless from start to finish. It’s like you’re on drugs with the coppers – yes, they do drugs. The style of filmmaking really makes this film for me though. The wide screen picture and slick editing build the intensity up perfectly for it’s 70s cop show feel. The soundtrack is on point too as you listen to the guitars cry out long jazzy notes as the standard Chevrolet Cadillac struts around the neighbourhood.
Furthermore, I genuinely do not think the film would have been as good without the anchoring four leads, the two goodies and the two baddies. Firstly, Pena and Skarsgard’s relationship is everything to this movie. Their chemistry and witty quips really makes the film zing. They said at their press conference that the pair of them got drunk together before shooting this film so they could work each other out – it definitely worked.
Theo James (Divergent series) gave a professional and poised performance as the main villain. He distanced himself from the big budget Divergent saga as the hunky hero and he held his own in this gritty independent. His sidekick however, Birdwell (played by Caleb Landry Jones), steals the show from James. He is creepy, unnerving and kind of rock star-esque. He looks like a cross between Harry Styles and Mick Hucknell – I know, scary!
On the whole, this is a great addition to McDonagh’s back catalogue. He has followed up The Guard and Cavalry in style. With perhaps his most mainstream film to date, War on Everyone will collect great praise from the majority no doubt. It’s raw, different and has great performances to go with it. I stated Goat was the best I’ve seen this festival, War on Everyone certainly rivals it.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
War on Everyone is released this summer in the UK via Icon and Saban Films have the distribution rights in the US.