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It’s hard to discern the reason for being of the new action thriller All the Devil’s Men, written and directed by Matthew Hope. Sure, it has a catchy title, one so perfectly designed for a movie of this type that it’s a wonder it hasn’t been used before. And it marks the starring debut of Milo Gibson, son of Mel, so there’s that. The problem is that the pic is such an utterly routine, formulaic and forgettable example of its genre that watching it becomes an exercise in endurance. Even the always welcome presence of veteran actor William Fichtner, terrific as usual, isn’t enough to save it.
The film begins with an action sequence set in Morocco, because, well, that’s how movie of this type begin. We’re introduced to Collins (Gibson, looking like a younger, brawnier version of his father), the sort of hardened Special Ops warrior and Afghan War vet who’s clearly been affected by his work, as evidenced by the frequent pills he takes to calm his nerves. When Collins is recruited to take part in a London mission to take down McKnight (Eliot Cowan), a traitorous CIA traitor attempting to procure a nuclear warhead for a terrorist group, his fellow team members notice that he’s seen better days.
Release date: Dec 07, 2018
“He’s a messed-up war junkie,” says the veteran Brennan (Fichtner), who advises Collins to go home and finally see the child he’s never met. Meanwhile, another team member, Pete (Ghenga Akinnaghbe), resists the idea that the men are bounty hunters. “I’m a shadow warrior!” he declares. Cue the audience shrugging, “Whatever.”
Under the guidance of CIA agent Leigh (Sylvia Hocks), the men connect with Deighton (Joseph Millson), a British former good guy and now McKnight’s accomplice who’s willing to betray him. Except that you should never trust a turncoat, as the team discover when he leads them into an ambush. The violent melee results in the death of the one character who should have remained a presence in the film for much longer. As you can probably guess, everything that happens next becomes personal.
And what happens next is a series of gunfights and explosions (a character complains at one point about “Yanks always having to blow shit up,” which might have been funny in a better pic), shot in visually drab, nondescript locations and having virtually no impact whatsoever. But the action sequences are at least more entertaining than the jargon-filled, relentlessly macho dialogue which includes lengthy discussions about “protecting the homeland.”
The film would be more palatable if its star had a more arresting screen presence. Alas, Gibson, sporting a full beard, lacks the charisma desperately needed to carry an action vehicle this flimsy. Some of the slack is taken up by the supporting players, with Fichtner, Akkinaghbe and particularly Milson giving credible performances. But their efforts are not enough to make All the Devil’s Men any more exciting than watching neighborhood kids playing war games in the backyard.
Production companies: Big Book Media, BondIt, Creativity Capital, Dutch Angle, GFM Films, Graceway Films, H Films, Head Gear Films
Distributor: Saban Films
Cast: Milo Gibson, William Fichtner, Sylvia Hoeks, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Joseph Millson, Elliot Cowan
Director-screenwriter: Matthew Hope
Producers: Amory Leader, Hannah Leader
Executive producers: Guy Collins, Patrick DePeters, Patrick Fischer, Elizabeth Fowler, Fred Hedman, Matthew Helderman, Phil Hunt, Richard Kondal, Ben Press, Compton Ross, Michael Ryan, Luke Dylan Taylor
Director of photography: Robin Whenary
Production designer: Chris Richmond
Editor: Emma Gaffney
Composers: Amory Leader, Simon Williams
Costume designer: Emma Howarth
Casting: Lucy Hellier
Rated R, 100 minutes
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