Puerile, tone-deaf drivel
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