Magazine article Screen International

'War on Everyone': Berlin Review

Magazine article Screen International

'War on Everyone': Berlin Review

Article excerpt

Dir/scr. John Michael McDonagh UK. 2016. 98 mins.

After The Guard and Calvary, writer-director John Michael McDonagh is hot property - and it shows in this generously budgeted third feature, an indulgent homage to the 1970s buddy cop genre that veers like the Monte Carlo coupe driven by Alexander Skarsgard's hard-drinking character from dark comic brilliance to wearisome style exercise - the exercise being, mostly, to make two utterly corrupt, foul-mouthed New Mexico policemen sympathetic.

In this, it almost succeeds, thanks in no little part to the chemistry between Skarsgard and Michael Pena. But the glue of their jive-talking, bribe-taking relationship fails to stick together a contrived story. War On Everyone is essentially a clothes hanger for smart one-liners, verbal and visual, and its success will depend partly on how folks like the look of the clothes hanger. The film seems high on the desert air of New Mexico: painted in garish colours, cut fast and flashy, featuring big chunks of Glenn Campbell on the soundtrack. It's a kind of French Connection in Albuquerque meets... just about any other hard-boiled genre film you can think of, Tarantino's included.

Perhaps this will be enough to collar the kind of savvy urban audiences that mop up genre parodies like Kick Ass or Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. But in a film that takes a schoolboy's delight in being politically incorrect, taking potshots at everything from police racism to Stephen Hawking to Al Qaeda, there are some offnotes - clichéd gay and transvestite characters, for example, that will leave a nasty taste.

McDonagh sets the tone of relentless high-octane irreverence by having sharply dressed Terry Monroe (Skarsgard) run over a small-time-crook mime artist in the first scene, after his cop partner Bob Bolano (Pena) wonders whether mimes make a sound when they're hit. …

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