Puerile, tone-deaf drivel

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

If you thought the era of woe­fully mis­con­ceived at­tempts at ap­ing Pulp Fic­tion was mer­ci­fully over, then best duck and cover. Craft­ing a her­met­i­cally sealed moviev­erse of signs and sig­ni­fiers is not as easy as Quentin Tarantino makes it look.

Case in point: War on Ev­ery­one, wherein the sight of a man run­ning across Ice­land in a pur­ple zoot suit only prompts the viewer to won­der if they have fi­nally reached the last poorly chore­ographed se­quence in which wafer-thin car­i­ca­tures chase af­ter one an­other. If only.

Things get much, much worse in this jam­boree of bad ideas and trunk shots. John Michael McDonagh, the wri­ter­di­rec­tor be­hind The Guard and Cal­vary, has pre­vi­ously faced crit­i­cism for his de­pic­tion of women as en­fee­bled vic­tims. So, for his third and worst pic­ture to date, the two fe­male love in­ter­ests are thor­oughly ob­jec­ti­fied (ass-cam ahoy!) while fem­i­nist thinkers are name-dropped via a copy of Su­san Faludi’s Back­lash: The Un­de­clared War Against Amer­i­can Women. Later, both ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and trans­sex­u­al­ism are used as punch­lines.

As with ev­ery­thing else in this puerile, tone-deaf mish­mash – a film pop­u­lated by car­toon­ish child pornog­ra­phers, strip­pers and one lisp­ing, campy hench­man (Caleb Landry Jones) – it makes you want to pelt the screen with rot­ting fruit and cry out “You’re do­ing it wrong!”

Waver­ing be­tween a hard­boiled de­tec­tive mi­lieu and a half-baked 1980s CHiPs spoof, this tonal mess con­cerns two bad cops – sen­ti­men­tal, silent brute Terry (Skars­gård) and patho­log­i­cally chatty Bob (Peña) – as they ex­tort and grift their way across Al­bu­querque.

When he’s not be­ing cor­rupt, Terry drinks and lis­tens to Glen Camp­bell. That’s right. Glen Camp­bell. Didn’t get that the first time? Here’s some more Glen Camp­bell. Didn’t get that on the bounce? Here’s an ac­tual Glen Camp­bell T-shirt.

Whether he is be­ing cor­rupt or not, Bob pro­duces an end­less, te­dious stream of fac­toids (only men in So­ma­lia get grave­stones), Wikipedia blurbs (Si­mone de Beau­voir is “the ex­is­ten­tial fem­i­nist Si­mone de Beau­voir”) and bor­ing, bor­ing blather.

Con­fus­ing trivia with in­tel­lec­tual heft is just one of the many ways that War on Ev­ery­one isn’t half as clever as it thinks it is. A se­ries of te­dious con­trivances al­lows Bob and Terry go af­ter even worse peo­ple than they are, no­tably a lu­di­crous English toff ( Diver­gent’s Theo James).

The en­su­ing E-num­ber hy­per­ac­tiv­ity can, at best, re­sem­ble an episode of Adam West-era Bat­man. But with­out the depth or nu­ance of that show.

War on the au­di­ence, more like.

Bad cop, bad cop: Michael Peña and Alexan­der Skars­gård

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