All Things to All Men
Formulaic cops and robbers thriller starring Gabriel Byrne and Rufus Sewell
The opening minutes of All Things to All Men suggest that something interesting could be in the offing. ‘It’s good to see you again,’ says a gun dealer as stony-faced thief Riley (Toby Stephens) concludes their transaction. ‘Just like old times,’ says another underworld associate. Their delivery suggest good cutomer relations rather than any real camaraderie. A little further down the line, the theme is heightened when crime boss Joseph Corso (Gabriel Byrne) questions whether he’d be able to secure Riley’s services. ‘It’s a recession,’ replies crooked cop Parker (Rufus Sewell). ‘Everybody’s looking for work.’ A crime film that plays on the economic downturn from the criminal point of view – could this be Britain’s answer to Killing Them Softly?
Sadly, no – those initial actors were simply bad at reading their lines, and the formulaic plot bears none of KTS’s allegorical wit. Riley, Corso and Parker are the main pieces in a city-wide game of cops and robbers: Riley pulls off a large-scale job, so Parker blackmails Corso into helping track him down. Naturally, given the shady tendencies of all involved, there are double-crosses and backstabbings galore, but rather than get caught up in the intrigue, the audience is left wondering how none of the principal characters saw these developments coming. Or indeed, why we should care.
Writer-director George Isaac’s script veers between terse, monosyllabic exchanges and splurges of horrid cliché (‘I work alone’ / ‘He was like my brother’), a combination that results in seemingly impenetrable characters who actually just have nothing going on beneath the surface. If the supporting cast of hackneyed archetypes (the aristocratic higher-ups, the idealistic newbie) was the only thing left to criticise, Isaac would stand accused of nothing worse than being accidentally unoriginal. However, a clumsy third act cut-and-paste from LA Confidential (dialogue almost intact) shows a man who not only thieves from his betters, but is unable to adequately cover his tracks.
General release from Fri 5 Apr.