Written & Directed By: John Michael McDonagh
Cinematography By: Bobby Bukowski
Editor: Chris Gill
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Pena, Theo James, Malcom Barrett, Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones, Paul Resier, Stephanie Sigman , Keith Jardine, David Wilmot
Two corrupt cops set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Events, however, are complicated by the arrival of someone who appears to be even more dangerous than they are.
I am shocked by this material considering in 2014 his movie CALVARY was on my top 5 list of my favorite films of the year.
This film seems to be one that would be more fun to read than at times to actually watch.
The film is overly cynical all around and a dark comedy with no real aim so takes it out on all around.
The films time period is even confusing. As with the technology and modern conveniences it is obviously set in modern day, but the costumes look and tone of the movie more makes it seem set or at least inspired In style by the 1970’s. Not sure if the film was supposed to be an appreciation/deconstruction of the buddy cop film genre and the 1970’s type of conspiracy crime thrillers. Films like FREEBIE & THE BEAN.
Unfortunately a film that was set in the 70’s and a bit familiar best this film to the theater and to the punch, by actually being pretty much aimed and having a story.
Part of the problem with the film is that there is no real tension. There are minor obstacles but no real tension. As the characters seem to barely care about anything and barely have any motivation. So that the movie tries to offer surprises but seems pretty predictable from a story point of view.
The film is full of ideas, unfortunately they are all over the places as the film and it’s theme seems to be the same way.
The film seeks to offend everyone it can, but comes off volatile with no real reason to be. So that after awhile instead of being pointed at any type of target. It becomes continuously tedious. It is clear that writer-director John Michael McDonagh is talented it just comes across here that he doesn’t have any particular story to tell. What he does offer here is more of a showcase for the actors and characters. Who could easily be interesting, but seem constantly in search of a proper story or plot. Reminding me a. It of the movie THE WAY OF THE GUN, but that film was stylistic and had great characters. Though similarly both films offer some clever turns on cliches that we have become accustomed too.
This film seems to be his Hollywood film set in Los Angeles trying to capture the culture as well as keeping to his instincts though it feels like a mixture of taking familiar cop television shows and showing the world of not only dirty cops who aren’t dirty to the point of hurting innocents but are pretty reckless and also seeming like the film has a story but along the way more or less seeming more like it is more a screed about subjects and certain annoyances as well as as seeming g like a monologue that remembers it has a story to follow.
So it never feels like it comes together as it should. It time to time feels full of character but also takes us out of it
If I have time to think and my thoughts become more distracting then what i am watching not only has it not held my interest but makes me feel disappointed and wanting to label the film as bad
The film just comes off as too busy. Trying to tackle so much instead of taking it’s time so that the film feels as distracted as the audience . It also seems a little too in love with itself, characters and language. Almost like someone trying to show off but really has nothing to say.
The film is sort of stylish, but you expect more from this filmmaker as this seems more of a product of some kind of frustration and just wanting to vent and express random thoughts through characters and situations. Tying them All together.
You wonder throughout why Michael Pena’s detective character is dirty. As he is smart, sharp and can almost figure he is maybe doing it more to support his family with his sons who he seems to give tough love to. Though with Pena’s comic timing and command of the role. You can understand the charisma of his more responsible character.
Alexander Skarsgard is more the live wire here . His character is an alcoholic. Who is the loose canon who eventually finds stability in a random relationship with someone involved In this case. And taking custody and responsibility of a kid who is involved with a case they are investigating. He was a last minute casting replacement for Garrett Hudland
They are crooked cops not just in attitude and behavior but in duty. Freely setting up robberies and willfully being bribed. They have chemistry but the sight of them seems a bit off and they both have different energies as actors and as partners but it strangely works. Especially For a film that is so eclectic Though it is also hard to care about the film or it’s characters. As most are unlikeable for no real reason and seeming to be put here as a challenge to political correctness. While the film offers diverse cast to cover itself.
The villains end up seeming like a holdover form a 1970’s film only a much sillier one. Especially Caleb Landry Jones as the right hand man to the villain Theo James. As he might look threatening but he is as decorated and as weak as his ensemble and strange affected though ultimately hilarious way of speaking Though the film is filled with in Jokes even one which features Michael Pena getting shot that offers a surprise. That I wonder if it was an intentional inside joke for those who remember his character and his characters fate from the film END OF WATCH.
The films main female characters while being absolutely gorgeous and seem to have good heads in their shoulders. They are intelligent and have rational thoughts. Though they seem to be the audience surrogate. As they know better and just how bad they can be and are but see something in them and are charmed by their anti-social antics. As essentially they are bad boys and the film seems to be a love letter to those hard grizzled character whose morals are questionable but do stand for something.
Writer-Director John Michael McDonagh again has a talent for the art of conversation and with language. Exposing the magic and beauty of spoken words as well as written. Though with this film. While occasionally witty leaves a lot to be desired. Even in the dialogue. So that this seems like a good draft but not a whole. He still seems to be experimenting. This is the first film of his that lacks actor Brendan Gleeson in the film or as a lead.
If anyone ends up walking away with the film, As far as being memorable and putting in a good performance it would be rising character actor Michael Barrett The film never reaches the lunacy it seems to be trying to kick up to. So that it stays bland and controlled. Not to say it isn’t fun. It just has so many ingredients that never seem to mix to a good recipe. A decent one though
The only thing they be totally moral against anyone is when there is a pedophile villain, With a twitchy performance by Caleb Landry Jones that becomes distracted within itself to be threatening. She. He already is acting like he is falling apart and has nothing to show that he is dangerous or put up a fight. Alexander Skarsgard has a swagger and the most charm in the film that might please some and alienate others.
John Michael McDonagh obviously has a love of the genre but can’t mix them with the genre. As he clearly likes the characters he has written. As what the film lacks in action it makes up for in script and characters.
A character the film finds so interesting that the film takes a detour to follow him. The film feels like a modern version of THE NICE GUYS only meaner and with not as much of a story but the same camaraderie. And less physical comedy. Though seeks to want to be set in the past with modern sensibilities and insight
With the characters to an excursion. To Iceland that comes from nowhere and is fun, but only in this film would make any sense