Based within the stunning scenery of Albuquerque, New Mexico, John Michael McDonagh’s War on Everyone is set up to be a Jump Street-esque cop comedy, touching on themes of friendship, gang culture and corruption.
Overall, the redeeming features of the film are much fewer than its flaws. The aforementioned themes touch upon serious issues that the voice and character of the film cannot embody fully. The writing itself, by McDonagh, seems to bypass steps of characterisation and plot in order to fully invest in one or two scenes perhaps previously set on, but irrelevant to the storyline. You can imagine the film laid out as a storyboard with blank gaps, where logical links should be, in between vibrant sparks of creativity.
For instance, the talent displayed in the filming of a scene of Terry (Alexander Skarsgård) drinking at a nightclub is fantastic. The angle that the audience view the detective from, whereby his hands form almost elegant props to the visual, is mesmerising, and the juxtaposition between his isolated self and the pulsating energy of a nightclub behind him shows cinematographer Bobby Bukowski’s flair. The lead creative figures behind the film seem to have been granted a limited amount of space to achieve their full potential.
Throughout the film in general, there are an awkward amount of racist and sexist jokes and all morals stretch to their limit in instances such as the suggestion that Jackie (Tessa Thompson) is herself used as a payment within the bad cop act. Even the strong and intelligent Dolores (Stephanie Sigman) is undermined by her two main scenes taking place in the bedroom and the kitchen, as pointed out by The Telegraph.
It would be easy to make a long list of the problems of the non-PC humour in this film. Instead, it should be acknowledged that by the end, you have a strange fondness for Terry and Bob (Michael Peña) and their loyalty to each other, especially in the, admittedly quite well done, shootout finale. There should also be praise for Birdman (Caleb Jones), who in himself could be seen to embody the quirky and uncomfortable voice of the film.
Image: Gage Skidmore; Wikimedia Commons