Twitter Plot Summary: A thief gets stuck between a maverick cop and a crime kingpin. It also makes London look pretty.
Five Point Summary:
1. The blackmail scheme is established.
2. A slick bank heist.
3. A sudden mid-film twist.
4. The net is closing in. As it were.
5. Aaand there’s the resolution you expected.
All Things To All Men boasts an impressive cast, featuring the talents of Toby Stephens, Rufus Sewell and Gabriel Byrne, but unfortunately they’re let down by a weak script and a plot that we’ve seen several times before in just about every other gritty London crime thriller since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels came charging out of the gates. It’s also another of those films released in 2013 that were advertised in cinemas quite prominently leading up to release, but then failed to make an appearance in anything more than a few select cinemas. In hindsight it’s easy to see why, as it doesn’t fit in with the usual thriller template we often get on the big screen, and despite the big names attached never makes itself more than the sum of its individual parts.
The latest in that aforementioned long line of gritty thrillers set in London, the plot sees Rufus Sewell’s “maverick” cop butting heads with crime boss Gabriel Byrne, with robber Toby Stephens stuck in the middle being used by both sides. It plays with the concept of right and wrong and blurs the line between the two – this is something we’ve seen before of course, so much of the narrative won’t come as a surprise to anybody. There’s even a glorious amount of theft from LA Confidential’s plot, so fans of that film may get a distinct sense of deja-vu as this particular story develops, albeit with a distinct London twang rather than west coast America.
The performances are strong from everyone involved, as you might expect from Byrne, Sewell and Stephens. Byrne in particular must be grateful to be involved in a criminal underworld story that doesn’t ask for him to be punched in the face repeatedly by everybody else in the cast. Confused? Just watch Miller’s Crossing for an explanation. Byrne has perhaps the most development of the three big leads, balancing between his criminal activities and trying to prevent his son from coming to harm. Sewell provides just the right level of shady to pull off his role, whilst Stephens isn’t exactly stretched in terms of acting ability, spending the majority of his time flitting between emotionless and looking mildly bored.
What All Things To All Men does have is some incredibly nice scenery, the cinematography making London look surprisingly shiny and splendid. It doesn’t hurt that pretty much every location used is a potential stop on a London sightseeing tour, and the ones that aren’t viable tourist locations look good regardless. Sadly just because it looks pretty doesn’t make it an entirely successful venture. Whilst the story keeps moving it’s a little too labyrinthine for its own good and whilst stylish and well acted it lacks a killer punch to elevate it beyond straight to DVD territory. Given the talent involved you might have expected a little more from it, and that is perhaps why ultimately it only received a limited cinematic release and is destined to reside in the bargain bins alongside Fire With Fire and Stolen.