John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to the incredible Calvary sees the Irish writer/director heading back to the corrupt cop territory of his debut feature The Guard. This is another darkly comic crime caper filled with McDonagh’s typically politically incorrect dialogue and sprinklings of bloody violence, two things sure to please his long-time fans. Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña star as two crooked detectives attempting to force themselves into a million dollar heist planned by local criminals. It’s a set-up that should be perfect for McDonagh’s pinpoint satire, but aside from a couple of moments of brilliance this is an awkward misfire.
Much of it comes down to the cast itself. While the permanently underrated Peña is great once again, the rest are either misused or just simply miscast. The brilliant Tessa Thompson is disappointingly saddled with a character so minor she barely registers, while Skarsgård never seems entirely comfortable in a role that could’ve benefited from a more naturally charismatic performer. A great actor in the right setting, here he feels genuinely misplaced. Worst of all is a screenplay drowning in limp jokes and inconsistencies, a script well short of McDonagh’s gleefully insulting work on The Guard and even further from the thought-provoking genius of Calvary.
Entertaining enough and occasionally laugh out loud funny, War On Everyone unfortunately can’t help but feel a massive disappointment given the pedigree behind the camera. In most other hands this may have been seen as a decent enough way to pass the time, a quick and inconsequential drift through the genre, but with McDonagh at the helm it should have been so much more. As it is this is a missed opportunity – a film that aims for a warped take on the buddy cop formula instead stuck firmly on the line between decent and ordinary.