War on Everyone Review

Posted: February 27, 2016 in 2016 Berlinale, Action, Comedy, Reviews
Tags: , ,

WOE_FirstLook-2-1024x716Have you ever wondered if a mime would make a noise when run over by a police car? This and other too-often neglected questions of law enforcement are finally answered in John Michael McDonagh’s irreverent take on the buddy cop formula, War on Everyone.

Imagine a remake of Lethal Weapon in which the Mel Gibson character spoke and acted like Mel Gibson in the course of a DUI. Meanwhile, the Danny Glover guy profanely berates his children, enables his alcoholic partner, and argues with his wife over the source of existential philosophy quotes. War on Everyone is South Park meets Starsky & Hutch, a kick ass, crazy, would-be procedural that is not satisfied until it has found the scene that offends you.

Does McDonagh go too far?

Well, duh, that’s kind of the point.

War on Everyone is Last Man Standing satire that will divide audiences as neatly as the ongoing presidential campaign. You will love it or hate it. The World Premiere came at the Berlinale Film Festival, as part of a whiz-bang line-up in the Panorama section. Next stop is SXSW. If you’re inclined, better get in line now. Once word gets out, the screenings are guaranteed sellouts. Audiences will cheer; critics will likely continue to tsk-tsk.

The plot is the same as every police movie or television episode aired in the last 30 years. A couple of rogue cops exasperate their captain (played here at the perfect pitch by Paul Reiser), befriend the not-so-bad guys, and take down the Big Bad before wrapping it all up at the beach. What separates War on Everyone from the rest of the field is sheer obscenity and a willingness to destroy all remaining vestiges of political correctness in a way that Republican candidates can only dream of.

Dialogue comes off as if written with a straight-razor, and the performances match. Alexander Skarsgård (Mel Gibson) and Michael Peña (Danny Glover) have an effortless chemistry, with one another and everyone else they encounter on their twisted path. Peña, who was so damn enjoyable in Ant-Man, shows that performance was no fluke. He’s a natural in the comedy/action genre. Skarsgård can play hero, anti-hero, or villain. He’s got the deadpan expression and the physicality and an innate sense to keep an audience on his side even while throwing empties out the window and careening off parked cars as he drives down a suburban street.

And they are literally not the half of it. The two petty street crooks our officers of the law have to use and abuse to get to the real evil are like something Tarantino dreamed up after ingesting shrooms. Reggie X (Malcolm Barrett) and Jimmy Harris (Geoffrey Pomeroy) bring to the big screen the foot rub Quentin T. only hinted at in Pulp Fiction. Foot fetishists everywhere: consider yourselves warned.

The New Mexico location is beautifully used, in a manner reminiscent of Breaking Bad, and there is the definitive side trip to Iceland, a hilarious excursion that plays like a dream sequence it’s so perfect.

But wait, there’s more.

How about a soundtrack filled with Glen Campbell’s greatest hits, along with I Fought The Law by The Clash? Tessa Thompson as a sexy stripper/love interest with a heart of gold? Stephanie Sigman as the sweetest, smartest cop’s wife ever?

But most importantly, War on Everyone is a chance to see a confident, even cocky screenwriter/director, juggling knives while blindfolded and laughing the entire time.

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