All Things to All Men
dir-scr George Isaac
prd George Isaac, Pierre Mascolo
with Rufus Sewell, Gabriel Byrne, Toby Stephens, Elsa Pataky, Leo Gregory, Terence Maynard, Julian Sands, Pierre Mascolo, James Frain, David Schofield, MC Harvey, Junior Nunoo
release UK 5.Apr.13
13/UK Cipher 1h28
All Things to All Men
Have gun will travel: Stephens

sw sw sw
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
All Things to All Men Slick and atmospheric, but both overcomplicated and far too reliant on guns to drive the plot, this London crime thriller looks terrific but struggles to hold our interest. The strong cast helps, but none of the characters are very engaging.

London detective Parker (Sewell) is playing a dangerous game, trying to crush gangster Corso (Byrne) by undermining his business and threatening his son (Mascolo). Parker's partner Sands (Maynard) reluctantly goes along with this violent plan, although their new colleague Dixon (Gregory) is shocked to discover what's going on in the shadows. Meanwhile, efficient hitman Riley (Stephens) is prowling unknowingly around the edges, hiding out with an old friend (Pataky) whose husband was caught in the crossfire.

The script is so dense that it's impossible to unravel the plot threads to figure out exactly what's going on. With constant references to earlier events that are clearly meaningful, we wish there had been a "previously on..." opening montage. So all we can engage with is the moral ambiguity of it all. Everyone is confronted with difficult decisions, and old loyalties are sorely tested.

The actors are terrific at bringing out this emotional resonance so that, even if we can't understand what's happening, we can feel what these men are going through. Byrne is especially good as the criminal with a conscience who cares about his loser son and just wants to get out of this alive (fat chance!). Stephens has a cool outer demeanour that's cleverly undermined by his own confusion about what's really going on. And Sewell is the least questioning person on screen, charging through his perilous plan as if he's invincible (fat chance!).

So the problem is that we really don't care who lives or dies, since it seems like everyone is heading for certain doom. The film is awash in big guns, which makes it frankly impossible to believe even as some sort of fantasy underworld of shoot-outs and car chases. But as a director, Isaac has a terrific eye for capturing London's iconic locations. Every scene looks terrific, and he makes great use both of expansive views and specific settings. It would be great if next time he told an original story that was less slavish to the hackneyed crime genre.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 25.Mar.13

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... All Things to All Men Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall