All Things To All Men Review

Film Still
  • All Things To All Men film still


A seriously impressive and complex London-set noir from debut boy George Isaac.

We've looked at that title from every conceivable angle and – no, we're unable to explain exactly why this impressive London-set neo-noir is called All Things To All Men. One spurious guess is that it might have something to do with the fact that the film has a vast cast of male protagonists who all want… things.

It's a huge cast, and, against all odds, first-time writer and director George Isaac (who earned his spurs producing Kidulthood) manges to marshal them with the ease of an old hand.

British gangster films are ten-a-penny on the post-Ritchie landscape, but this one is clearly a cut above. Its hyper-complex plot is built on a teetering Jenga-tower of double-crosses, deceits and internalised honour codes, and just when you think you've pegged down one of the characters, everything changes. Indeed, one of the film's most satisfying elements is the way it never hands you a clear hero until the final scene, and even then, allegiances are left with a big question mark.

Details of the story are too elaborate to go into, but the central characters are a dodgy cop (Rufus Sewell) and ace safecracker (Toby Stephens) and a local gangster (Gabriel Byrne). The inclusion of the latter feels apt, particularly as this harks back to the Coen brothers' mind-melting gangster tango, Miller's Crossing. All the men have henchmen and partners and sons and bosses to deal with, and Isaac does well to make every small character count. There is no dead wood here.

The London locations in the film are pushed to the fore, sometimes for the better (such as the climactic stand-off in Battersea Power Station), but sometimes making it resembles a local tourism portfolio. Worst offender is an unintentionally amusing shot in which Stephens is answering his phone while stood in one of glass pods of the London Eye. The action set-pieces, too, are carried out surprisingly well, with special mention going to a high-speed nighttime car chase which is genuinely thrilling and scrupulously edited.

It's not a film that's going to rock the landscape of British cinema or anything, it's just a well executed genre flick that manages to keep interest levels high by never glorifying the actions of its characters as well as swiftly and incisively giving each one a rich and believable back story. It looks good and the performances, too, are uniformly strong. Bravo George Isaac.

comments powered by Disqus