Urban Cinefile
"When you read a newspaper or watch TV, don't forget this is horseshit. "  -- Primary Colors director Mike Nichols on media rumours that the White House applied pressure during filmmaking
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday March 20, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



SYNOPSIS: Two corrupt cops in New Mexico (Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Pena) set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Things take a sinister turn, however, when they try to intimidate someone who is more dangerous than they are. Or is he?

Review by Louise Keller:
The witty, sharp dialogue between Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Pena's renegade cops flies faster than bullets in this black and wildly incongruous action thriller, although to its detriment, the plot scatters everywhere. After an auspicious debut about two hit-men in The Guard (2011) and a world-weary priest in Calvary (2014), writer director John Michael McDonagh concentrates his attention beyond his Irish origins to New Mexico, where the two fast-jiving cops break every rule in the book as they skid around town, intimidate crooks while lining their own pockets. Their motto? If it ain't broke, break it. It is as though McDonagh has invested so heavily in his colourful characters, that he has forgotten about the storyline. In fact, at one point, one character comments: 'If you ain't got a good script, you ain't got s**t.'

On an unexpected musical backdrop of Glen Campbell songs and when everything happens at a million miles an hour, there is an appealing recklessness about Skarsgard's Terry Monroe, the hard-drinking, speed-addicted cop and Pena's Bob Balano, the family man with a smart, gorgeous wife (Stephanie Stigman) and dark sense of humour. Stigman and Tessa Thompson as Jackie, Terry's new squeeze, add some welcome glamour.

We get a taste of what is to come in the opening scene as Terry and Bob are about to run-down a crook dressed as a mime-artist: Bob wonders aloud whether or not he will utter a sound. We discover this and other darkly humorous things over the course of the film, including the fate of a Quaker crook (Geoffrey Pomeroy) who abhors violence, how to locate an Afro American (Malcolm Barrett) in Iceland, the role of a night-club owner involved in porn (Caleb Landry Jones) and an English aristocrat (Theo James) involved in a crooked horseracing business and a jackpot of a cool one million dollars. There is much that is politically incorrect and not everything works.

Everything relies on the relationship between Skarsgard and Pena and they both fire. Pena is poker-faced throughout, delivering his lines with practiced disdain, while Skarsgard (towering above him at 1.94 metres) is fascinating to watch as he shows off his Tarzan body beautiful and seductively handsome looks. Both wear immaculate three-piece suits that seem none the worse for wear throughout. I laughed when an on-duty cop asks them what precinct they are from? From hell, baby is the quick reply.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

(UK, 2016)

CAST: Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Pena, Theo James, Tessa Thompson, Paul reiser, Stephanie Stegman, Tait Fletcher, Malcolm Barrett

PRODUCER: Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross

DIRECTOR: John Michael McDonagh

SCRIPT: John Michael McDonagh


EDITOR: Chris Gill

MUSIC: Lorne Balfe


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 17, 2016

Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018