Renegade police duo Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña are the kind of cops that the crims love to hate – and for good reason too.
The Nice Guys is a film in which a down-on-his-luck private eye and a heavy-hitting hired enforcer find themselves unlikely partners, as the duo embark on a journey to uncover the mysterious disappearance of a prominent politicians daughter. Before long, their investigation takes them to dark places, with porn, paraphernalia and politics all interlinking in this hilariously dark comedy.
That’s the buddy-cop film you should have seen.
Unfortunately however, most of you will have overlooked Shane Black’s 70’s set caper starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. With a budget of $50 million dollars, the film only managed to garner a $57 million dollar return worldwide – a relative failure when compared to similarly budgeted Central Intelligence which earned over $215 million dollars at the box office.
But why? Here was a film that had dynamic characters, great comedy and was revered by critics and its – albeit few – vocal fans, yet for some reason it didn’t do well. Maybe it was the marketing? Unlike Central Intelligence and War On Everyone, it didn’t reveal all its big jokes in the trailer, so by the time the scenes play out in real time, you haven’t already wasted your laughter.
War On Everyone follows a trope that’s all too familiar, yet unlike The Nice Guys it fails to offer anything remotely new or interesting to the genre. Terry and Bob (Alexander Skarsgård & Michael Peña) are bad cop, worse cop and together they cruise around in their 1970’s Oldsmobile in pristine three-piece suits, dropping coke and scoping out their next target.
It’s this wanton behaviour that sees them catch wind of a bank robbery and they want a cut of the action. What they don’t know is that the criminals are carrying out the bidding of a deviant British lord (Theo James) and his equally unnerving sidekick (Caleb Landry Jones). Both our ‘heroes’ are happy to let this play out however, that is until a line is crossed that Terry and Bob’s version of morality won’t accept.
Throughout the film, both men find themselves in a series of moral conundrums that each time results in them failing to do the right thing. Yet when they actually start to do some good it proves too little, too late as we simply don’t care. Having put up with their dick-ish behaviour throughout the film, there’s not much reason why you’d want them to succeed.
Following the critical success of Calvary and The Guard, you can’t blame director John Michael McDonagh for wanting to raise the stakes a little. Whereas his previous outings were executed with subtlety, War On Everyone takes a more blatant approach, with the majority of its jokes landing straight on the nose.
Comedy is subjective by nature of course, but when they’re this clichéd it’s kind of hard not to roll your eyes and wonder where it all went wrong. Well in truth there’s a number of reasons, but there’s one scene during the film where it actually becomes self-aware of its own mediocrity. “It starts and ends with the script,” says one degenerate to another as they take stock of the no-frills porno they’re watching.
“If you ain’t got a good script, you ain’t got shit.”
War On Everyone is in UK cinemas from October 7.