“Whose money? Our money.”
I tell you what this year has been missing: a good black comedy. We’ve had a never ending conveyor belt of churned out shit when it comes to comedy in 2016 (and 2015, and 2014) but while some of those might have been worth a laugh or two, none have really done anything worth talking about. Until now.
And if the negative reaction of the majority is anything to go by, the latest from director John Michael McDonagh – the man responsible for excellent jet-black comedies The Guard and Calvary – is his most rude and most offensive yet. Whether or not this is a good thing, is completely up to you.
Holding the world by the balls, less-than-completely-honest cops Terry (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob (Michael Peña) have it made. Getting through life on a steady stream of bribery, blackmail and general crookedness, the guys live the life of Riley. Seemingly uncaring when it comes to their jobs and the list of complaints against them, the lads are happy to dance down a very fine line between good guys and bad as they fleece every criminal that they trip across.
But things take a nasty turn when the pair come across someone worse than than them: James Mangen (Theo James). A phoney looking “lord” who has all ten of his filthy fingers jammed deep into some even filthier pies. When the dirty cops try to man handle the career criminal into his latest big bag of stolen cash, the Brit takes it upon himself to makes the policemen’s lives hell!
Now, you might think that me telling you this is a comedy means that you’re in for some light hearted buddy cop bullshit that desperately imitates classics like Lethal Weapon hoping to garner a laugh or two and create themselves an audience with silly pop culture references and self referential crap. Much like we’ve had for a scary portion of this year – and last. But you’d be mistaken.
In fact, I’m not entirely sure this film, or its creators, cares if it has an audience such is its brazen attempt to offend pretty much everybody in its short 98 minutes.
And that is this film’s beauty. While it’s busy pissing off absolutely everyone – the reactions I saw online after the screening was done were nothing short of hilarious – I was sat, red faced, struggling to catch my breath as I laughed constantly from the opening vehicular assault on a mime (“I wonder if you hit a mime, if it makes a noise”) to the closing credits hinting at previous laugh out loud jizz jokes. While others were grimacing at possibly the most non-politically correct jokes to be put on screen in a couple of years, I was in absolute bits, with tears rolling down my face.
Story-wise, I can’t say the quality is as good as the comedy. The flimsy, paper-thin plot revolves more around Terry’s stereotypical loner drunk trying to force himself a family to imitate his equally stereotypical partner Bob – a family man who treats the drunk like his brother – than it does the actual bad guy and the partners’ attempt to extort him. While it’s not difficult to follow what passes for a story here, to try would be a waste of time. It makes absolutely no sense and seems almost scattershot in its execution.
It’s nowhere near as nonsensical as Killer Bitch, but it is all over the shop. The cool part is, that it doesn’t really matter, you’re too busy laughing at the latest bit of hell-worthy racism that’s gonna keep you feeling guilty for laughing at it for ages.
Peña and Skarsgård have amazing chemistry together, and their buddy-buddy routine is a real thing of beauty. Not since Riggs and Murtaugh have an unlikely looking pair of friends had such a great onscreen presence. Having seen his previous work, I’m sure that director John Michael McDonagh got exactly what he wanted out of his American debut, whether or not everyone was happy with the result.
To try and see this as anything but a blacker than black comedy in the spirit of films like In Bruges would be futile. But for me to try and recommend it to anyone, considering the overwhelmingly negative reaction it’s gotten would possibly be just as silly an idea. So I’ll leave it at this: War on Everyone is one of the most grossly offensive comedies I’ve seen in a while. I loved every single racist, sexist, and whatever other “ist” you can think of minute of it, but it definitely won’t be for everyone.