'All Things To All Men' Ė Review

The London Review, 3 April 2013
By Derek Winnert

Rufus Sewell stars as a maverick (ie bent) copper who stages a robbery with help from safecracker Toby Stephens and crime lord Gabriel Byrne in a London-set crime drama story that closely recalls the recently released 'Welcome to the Punch'. Itís just one of those strange coincidences you get quite often in the movies. They were planned and made simultaneously and Iím sure didnít know about each other at all. Weirdly, there are two movies about assaults on the White House coming up this year Ė 'Olympus Has Fallen' and 'White House Down'.

Made on a lower budget than the James McAvoy movie, George Isaacís first film stands up well against it. Admittedly itís not perfect, but 'All Things to All Men' is still a pretty slick, fast-moving and atmospheric crime thriller, lensed quite stylishly and very effectively on some of the capitalís more interesting non-tourist spots to suggest the way of life here in 2013. The eye-catching photography by Howard Atherton really captures the flavour of living, and working, and indeed enjoying the crime business from both sides in our mean streets. This gives the film texture and makes London one of the bright stars of the movie.

Never afraid to kill off characters, itís gritty entertainment that manages fresh riffs on old situations, thanks to half a dozen fine Brit actors on excellent form, one ace nailbiting car chase and that brilliant location work throughout the capital, ending up with a lethal showdown at the old Battersea Power Station.

Sewell, Stephens and Byrne slip comfortably in their characters like theyíre putting on sleek old leather gloves. They have nicely written roles and actors as seasoned as these donít mess this up. And thereís good work all round from Terence Maynard as another rogue cop, James Frain as the Attorney General, David Schofield as the Police Commissioner and Julian Sands as Byrneís henchman. I said itís strongly cast and the actors here are much better used than the Welcome to the Punch lot.

The plot? Well, itís no better than 'Welcome to the Punchís', but this time I like it more.

If the Internetís to be believed, and of course it always is, the movieís budget was £3million and theyíve got a lot of value from that, all there up on screen. Then again, 'Welcome to the Punchís' was twice that at around £6million, and they got pretty good value too. Brit movies of this kind of cost stand a good chance of getting their money back, especially when supported by good advertising/marketing campaigns, which these are. So, good.

A screen-writer surprised me recently by asking me at a screening if critics made allowances for the budgets of films. First response was of course not. (Anyway, the film in question Ė 'Cheerful Weather for the Wedding' Ė was so well made, Iíd have had no idea it was low budget.) But later I thought, well you do a little Ė but sub-consciously. You donít expect 'All Things to All Men' to look as great, or have as awesome action sequences, or have as big stars as a $100million American thriller. But then you do hope theyíll use their micro budgets to maximum effect. And 'All Things to All Men' kind of does.

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