2016 has already given us one of the greatest buddy cop movies of all time thanks to Shane Black’s ‘The Nice Guys’. As a result any other entry into this genre was going to have a lot to live up to, enter ‘War On Everyone’. Whilst my interest in any film starring Michael Peña would already be high, the fact that this movie is written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, the guy who brought us ‘Calvary’, a couple of years back only served to heighten my anticipation.
Michael Peña & Alexander Skarsgård star as a pair of well dressed but definitely not well mannered cops who aren’t afraid of making the most of their privileged position as enforcers of the law. Both actors perform well and have good chemistry. Their characters are quite odd, Skarsgård’s more so, and the film never really decides whether it wants to focus on them or the story. We get a little character development which is good but never enough to help us understand these often baffling corrupt cops. Their performances were frequently quite physical too and this at times did make for comedic viewing. More often than not though the humour here is fairly dark, no surprise when you look at the writer, however it didn’t always land. Too regularly gags were meet with an awkward silence by the audience. The film isn’t without laughs though and these usually come as a result of the physical comedy already discussed or one off comments mixed into the dialogue.
If the characters are bizarre the narrative is something else. You may have a hard time working out what the film was really all about, I still don’t think I really got it. The story itself continues to become more and more random by they scene, but not random in a good way. As I’ve already touched on, there was a lack of any real focus here which only served to confuse the audience. Was this meant to be a deep character study, a dark comedy, a cop drama with an underlying message or all of the above? I just couldn’t work it out, maybe we’re not meant to understand it all but this just didn’t work for me. Due to this confused focus there were some pacing issues with the movie. As the narrative seemingly wandered aimlessly from scene to scene the audience was dependent on the sporadic successful humour to keep them entertained and unfortunately this just wasn’t enough.
I really did want to like this film, I was a fan of the directors previous work and Michael Peña is one of my favourite actors, I appreciated the style and I was taken with the idea of the film. It’s a massive shame that just nothing really came together for ‘War On Everyone’. It has moments of quality but overall it won’t make a lot of sense to viewers and as the film progresses I struggle to think that it will entertain them either. Whilst ‘War On Everyone’ comes out all guns blazing it doesn’t have enough substance to conquer the armies of cinema fans waiting to be entertained.
Rating – 5/10
Question: What is your favourite Michael Peña performance?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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