It’s a good sign when you’re watching a comedy and you laugh out loud in the first minute. It’s a bad sign when the second time you laugh comes at the 59 minute and 27 second mark. I can’t even remember if there was a third laugh in the overblown, way too clever for itself film WAR ON EVERYONE.
Terry (Skarsgard) and Bob (Pena) are easily the worse cops in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They seem to be in constant trouble with their boss (Paul Reiser) and when they’re not suspended they use their badges to break the law. I’m not sure what the good law enforcement officers of Albuquerque make annually, but I’m betting it’s not enough to support Terry and his mansion or Bob and his wife, two very large sons and a very nice pool. The both also drive classic vehicles, which they continually crash with no visible damage in the ensuring scenes. When they get wind of a possible million-dollar payday involving an old acquaintance named Reggie (Malcolm Barrett) and a mysterious man who goes by the handle Lord James (Theo James), they plan on interfering and keeping the money for themselves. Wonder how that’s going to turn out?
It used to be you knew you were in for a treat when a film is heralded as “So and So’s Movie Title.” Take for example the late, great writer Paddy Chayefsky. When the movie poster reads “Paddy Chayefsky’s THE HOSPITAL” or “Paddy Cheyefsky’s NETWORK” you knew you were in for something great. The opening credits of this film identify it is “JOHN MICHAEL McDONAGH’S WAR ON EVERYONE.” I had no idea who John Michael McDonagh was before the film and now that I do know, I will make it my mission to never see anything else he has or ever will do.
I will be positive here and say that the cast seems game. Skarsgard and Pena make a fun duo but they are buried under so much horrible dialogue that their near-winking into the camera to see if you’re in on the joke may actually be an early sign of conjunctivitis. It’s obvious that writer/director McDonagh has seen plenty of movies, but it seems like he’s trying to combine everything he learned from watching them here with no rhyme or reason. The cast go through their motions easily and I’m sure they thought this film would be regarded as a hip Kevin Smith meets Quentin Tarantino epic. It isn’t. Skarsgard is the more interesting character, with an immense love for the music of Glen Campbell and great curiosity over Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World.”
Incidentally, my first laugh occurred as the two cops were chasing down a mime in their car and one of them asked, “If you run down a mime, does it make a sound?” Having a sincere distaste for mimes I laughed. If I knew that it would almost be another hour before I actually laughed again I would have made it last a little longer.
Video: The film is presented in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The film almost has a noir-like blue tint to it at times. However, I could also be giving the filmmakers too much credit and it just wasn’t color corrected in post-production.
Audio: The soundtrack is presented in DTS Master Audio 5.1 and is clean and clear.
Everyone Sounds Off!: The Quirky Cast of War on Everyone (6:59): The usual featurette material featuring interviews with cast and crew.