War On Everyone

Director: John Michael McDonagh (2016) BBFC cert: 15

This sleazy, cynical and violent black comedy gets down and dirty in the war on good taste.

Drugs, double crosses, beheadings, strip joints and porn films feature in the story which goes isn’t afraid to visit very dark places. How much you enjoy it will depend hanging out with Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgard as the pair of corrupt police detectives.

They star as sharp suited cops chasing a million dollars in cash which has gone missing from a crime scene. And they have no intention of turning the loot in when they get their hands on it.

These likely lads are called Bob and Terry, the former is a committed family man, the latter a hard drinker with a glad eye. This reference to the 1970s TV show is just one of many, very knowing pop culture in-jokes scattered through the script.

Another is having Brit actor Theo James sending up Hollywood typecasting as an English master criminal. An exasperated Paul Reiser plays their angry Lieutenant back at the station while Tessa Thompson and Stephanie Sigman add heart, charm and glamour.

Though the action takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the cine-literate story should really be set in LA. It’s dizzyingly stitched together with references to musicals, sci-fi, westerns and cop thrillers, all mixed up and strung together to make a surprisingly satisfying whole.

Though it takes time for us to adjust to the films unique groove, and at times the tone veers about like the boys’ flash car in hot pursuit, the pace never flags.

Profane discussions about movies, art and philosophy litter the dialogue while jokes about police brutality and racism are no less funny for being topical. The opening gag involving a mime artist is inspired. As a bonus the brilliant songs of Glenn Campbell are used throughout.

John Michael McDonagh is the fiercely independent minded writer and director of Cavalry (2014) and The Guard (2011) and once again he takes no prisoners with the audiences sensibilities. War On Everyone is ambitious and sharp but its shock and awe approach may not to everyones taste.

@ChrisHunneysett

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