“War on Everyone” is an absurdist buddy cop comedy with action elements which boasts a rather dark sense of humour. Feeling more like a “True Detective” parody than a traditional comedy of this ilk, it moves along at a relentless pace, focusing predominantly on its two lead characters rather than its villain. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it feels as though the characters are making logical leaps that they have no right to make, but this feels deliberate for the most part, and the film is still very entertaining despite the fact that at times it can feel a little too bizarre.
The reason that “War on Everyone” appealed to me in the first place was that I heard it was directed by John McDonagh, the man behind 2015’s “Calvary”, a film with a lot of talking, an array of morally grey characters, and smart black comedy.
Whilst the premise behind “Calvary” doesn’t necessarily marry with the premise behind this film, I could sense similarities in tone from the trailer, and this led me to believe that seeing “War on Everyone” would be worth my time. “Calvary” is an intelligent film and it displays a genuine understanding of the human condition even though it’s a little off kilter. “War on Everyone” is much the same despite the fact that it’s a substantially sillier movie, as it’s very self-aware and consistently funny when it really shouldn’t be.
The film doesn’t boast what I would call a clear narrative thread, and it’s also missing a traditional conclusion because when we leave the characters they aren’t really in a better position than when we met them, but the way that the dialogue is delivered makes the movie engaging throughout. Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård both give commanding performances and they have great chemistry on screen, so whenever they appear together you can’t help but be amused.
The type of movie that this is can probably be best summed up by the reaction of an elderly couple who left the theatre just before I did. Presumably they were perplexed because they expected to see a traditional action thriller, so when the woman asked the man what he thought of the film he shook his head tiredly, looked at her in despair, and in his most disgusted voice he exclaimed “what a load of garbage”. That’s the kind of reaction that this movie would warrant if it wasn’t mindful of its own madness, because it’s extremely weird, tackles disturbing material, and its pacing is inconsistent. However, if you know what you’re getting into then this movie is weird in the best kind of way because it’s funny, intelligent, well written, and plays on conventions for no other reason than to entertain its audience.