Like his director-writer younger brother Martin, Brit John Michael McDonagh has headed to the US after impressing with his earlier Irish-accented black comedies.

Martin McDonagh went from the great In Bruges to the indulgently amusing, if lesser Hollywood underworld caper Seven Psychopaths.

Now John Michael has followed his Emerald Isle tales The Guard and Calvary by heading to New Mexico for War on Everyone. It's his spin on a buddy cop movie, with a few psychos of its own.

Alexander Skarsgard stars in the movie, War on Everyone.
Alexander Skarsgard stars in the movie, War on Everyone.

Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena are Albuquerque detectives Terry and Bob. Given the racial differences and the fact Bob is married with kids and Terry is single and often sozzled, it might appear a spin on the original Lethal Weapon double act.

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But no, it's just one long tiresome bad cop/worse cop routine involving, eventually, once someone discovers there is a plot, a racetrack robbery and a creepily upper class British villain (Theo James).

Actually, War on Everyone is one of those films that make you wonder: Who's it for? Folks pining for another hardboiled pastiche of a Tarantino film? Those who thought Nice Guys was the height of comedy? Fans of Skarsgard's recent Tarzan who might like to see him lurch drunkenly, belligerently and violently through a film while wearing a three-piece suit and gun holster?

He was funnier swinging semi-naked through the trees than he is here.

The WoE trailer might have suggested it's a punchy pulpy and has plenty of McDonagh's black comedy. The movie itself, though, is flat, hiccup-paced, cartoonish and too boring to be offensive with its crude, snarky minority-aimed humour.

That tedium is a product of many things.

Having despicable characters who have nothing at stake is but one of them - Terry and Bob are both corrupt, violent and seemingly untouchable by their boss (Paul Reisner).

A scene from the movie, War on Everyone.
A scene from the movie, War on Everyone.

Having a heist plot where it's impossible to care about whether anyone will get away with it, is another.

Having a screenplay that thinks dropping literary and artistic names into the dialogue when everything else is so very dumb, doesn't help either.

That said, McDonagh seems aware of his failings. "If you ain't got a good script, you ain't got shit," opines one supporting character.

It does have one thing though. It uses some nice songs by Glen Campbell. Otherwise it's a film that is remarkably tone deaf and quite awful.


Cast: Alexander Skarsgård Michael Peña, Theo James, Tessa Thompson
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Rating: R16 (sex scenes, violence, drug use, offensive language)
Running: time: 98 mins
Verdict: True dud