out of Five
Running time: 84
All Things To All Men is a slickly directed British crime thriller with a strong cast and a handful of decent action sequences, but it's ultimately let down by a confusing script and a frustratingly distant approach to its characters.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by George Isaac, All Things To All Men stars Rufus Sewell as corrupt cop Parker, who picks up the cokehead son (Pierre Mascolo) of crime boss Joseph Corso (Gabriel Byrne) and uses the arrest to blackmail Corso into hiring jewel thief Riley (Toby Stephens) for another heist. However, the heist doesn't quite go according to plan and soon the double crosses are flying thick and fast, with even Parker's loyal cohorts Sands (Terence Maynard) and Dixon (Leo Gregory) wondering what he's really up to.
Debut writer-director Isaac has a good feel for an action sequence and delivers a number of decent set pieces, including two foot chases, a car chase and a heist that involves rappelling down a shaft. He also seems to have strong contacts in the locations business, because the film features just about every photogenic London tourist spot you can think of and then some, sometimes laughably so, such as a scene where Riley takes a ride on the London Eye just to make a 30 second phone call.
The performances are something of a mixed bag: Byrne can do gruff crime boss in his sleep (although his speech about being the ‘merchant’ of London produces unintentional giggles) and he seems to be doing exactly that, while Stephens wears a constipated expression throughout the entire film, which makes it impossible to take his scenes seriously. That said, Sewell is excellent as Parker and there's strong support from both Maynard and Gregory as Sands and Dixon (essentially the film's most interesting characters).
The film's biggest problem is a frustratingly distant approach to its characters, to the point where you're never actually sure who you're supposed to be rooting for. This isn't helped by the fact that a) none of them are particularly likeable and b) the dialogue gives you almost nothing to go on, since everyone speaks in the same tersely clipped sentences; this is meant to be quote-unquote ‘hard-boiled’, but it backfires considerably because it renders the plot almost incomprehensible.
On top of that, the film is guilty of several cheeky lifts from L.A. Confidential (in both dialogue and plot), though if you're going to steal from someone, you might as well steal from the best.
Isaac's clear affinity for an action sequence is strong enough to suggest that he could be a director to watch out for, but All Things To All Men ultimately isn't quite as much fun as it should have been, thanks to a confusing script and thinly drawn characters.
All Things To All Men (15)