Title: War on Everyone
Release Date: 2016
Length: 98 minutes
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James
This is certainly not for everyone. The comedy is quite dark and the topics considered are equally dark and the jokes can be very blue. The heroes are…not heroes. They’re villains who draw the line somewhere. Or maybe they’re very corrupt cops who still have a slight sense of justice. You should watch the trailer; (EDIT: I neglected to mention initially, this is a redband trailer; there are four letter words aplenty.) if you don’t laugh at the mime joke, this is most definitely not the movie for you.
Okay, for those of you who are still here, Peña and Skarsgård are corrupt Albuquerque (?!) detectives who are constantly engaging in criminal misconduct and only narrowly avoiding being caught out by their captain (Paul Reiser in a delightful cameo). They’re played to absurdity similar to The Other Guys, but there is always a dark, serious, dangerous undertone throughout. If this had been out while I was in college, I’m sure it would have been my favorite movie of all time until well after graduation. (Which says a great deal more about me than the movie, yes, but something about the film as well.)
The plot is fairly simple, following our protagonists as they grift their way along and stumble over the chance at a large score of illicit cash. They have designs on the money and then the rest of the movie is about their attempts to steal it from the thieves who first stole it and the slow realization that it is more important to stop and punish some crimes than to pursue monetary gain, no matter how large. Though, in keeping with their character, it becomes a case of first one then the other, not an either/or.
This is a funny movie, certainly. But it is also quite violent. People are hurt badly and killed. There is a sex scene without a lot of nudity, but there is some. A few scenes have 80’s action-movie style background nudity. (Meetings in strip club, a la Beverly Hills Cop, etc. You know, so the director has a fig leaf for why he included topless women in a particular scene.) There’s also a scene to show the villain’s decadence which is a huge drug-fueled pool party which has some women in various states of undress. There are also some implicit indications of abuse of children which I found very dark and disturbing as well.
The movie has appeal despite the above, I think, because it has good jokes, a good story, and the take on the buddy-cop action-comedy genre is interesting because it grows the story and the jokes out of the very dark places and things that cops genuinely have to deal with. As I said up top, it won’t be for everyone, but boy howdy I sure laughed a lot between the beginning and end.