Revelling in its absolute irreverence, War on Everyone comes from very far out of left field.
When nihilistic police officer Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard), says to his equally sardonic partner Bob Belano (Michael Pena), “I’ve always wondered, if you hit a mime, does he make a sound” before promptly proceeding to run him over, the exchange sets the tone for an escalating series of cringe-worthy, face-in-your-hands misadventures; unearthing what for many would otherwise be considered safe ground.
War on Everyone doesn’t just ignore political correctness – it picks it up by the scruff of its well-trimmed collar and slaps it in the face. As the corrupt police officers navigate a mounting sleight of crimes, the film’s title evokes the Chaser’s own War on Everything, seeking to leave no group unscathed or unoffended in an assault on customary sensibilities and what would normally pass for “don’t go there” territory.
This is not so much a film as it is a live-action adaptation of the crass routines so often reserved for animated series like Family Guy or Bob’s Burgers; Skarsgard himself evoking the most vivid real-life adaptation of Archer’s titular spy as he drinks, seduces and galumphs his way through an intensifying slew of fisticuffs and, of course, British-accented villains (Theo James). Director John Michael McDonagh’s (Calvary, The Guard) complete disregard for woefully considered taboos is palpable as the two supremely nonchalant cops engage as Peter Griffin might in a cavalcade of seemingly life-threatening ordeals as if they were the insufferable rumblings of everyday life.
Skarsgard obliquely flaunts his adept comic talent in a turn that even outshines the more traditionally comic-focused Pena. Endearingly skewering his more-than-familiar tough guy visage, the soon to be Tarzan, along with his fellow cast members, is visibly having a ball as he leaps from one outrageous scene to another to lampoon anything and everything he can.
Grandiose speeches are perfunctorily and gleefully cut short, the officers pay a visit to the bad guy in a nice restaurant and badges (and guns) are casually thrown at desks as the norms of even comedic cop-drama are inverted for this subversive and bleakly black comedy.
War on Everyone is screening at the Sydney Film Festival on Friday June 10 and Sunday June 12, for tickets head to the Festival website
Glen Falkenstein on 2ser