J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, December 03, 2018

All the Devil’s Men


A CIA bounty-hunter (his colleague prefers the term “shadow warrior”) like Collins is so low on the counter-terror totem pole, he is hardly worth disavowing. Of course, the Agency should never have to, because he is so lethally effective. Unfortunately, an old colleague nearly his equal (or maybe even slightly better) has been turned by the bad guys. It will be Collins job to take down his former comrade and his new boss McKnight (a Muslim convert) in Matthew Hope’s All the Devil’s Men (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Collins has some kind of PTSD, but he doesn’t let it get in the way of his work. Same for his family. He is your basic self-medicating lone wolf, but for some reason, Leigh, his CIA contractor, wants him to work as part of a team on this one. He and salty old Brennan go way back, but the cocky Samuelson rubs him the wrong way. However, when his supposed old pal Deighton leads them into an ambush, all three will fight shoulder-to-shoulder, like brothers-in-arms. Those who survive will also work together for some payback.

Obviously, this is a very complicated narrative with all kinds of subtlety and nuance, so you might want to take a bit to get your thoughts straight. During that time, if you start to think Milo Gibson, the chap with the beard playing Collins looks familiar, it is probably because of his resemblance to his father Mel, who you may have heard of. Collins is not exactly Hamlet (a role Pops played for Zefferilli), but he handles all the brooding, seething, running, and shooting adroitly enough.

Of course, it is always entertaining to watch William Fichtner chew the scenery, but his character exits way too early. However, Gbenga Akinnagbe came to play as the cowboy-confident Samuelson. The film is at its best when he and Gibson’s Collins are doing their thing. Joseph Millson makes Deighton a credibly steely professional, but he is probably too buttoned-down, considering how dull and bland the rest of the villains are, unfortunately including Elliot Cowan phoning it in as McKnight.

Hope stages the action sequences with some visual panache, but the film’s unremitting cynicism gets tiresome. Frankly, CIA personnel have way more idealism than he gives them credit for. It is always strange to find that attitude in action movies like Devil’s Men, because approval of the military and intelligences services surely runs higher than average among its target demo. Don’t they want to make money? Still, the action is pretty good. Earning a mixed-probably-wait-to-stream-it review, All the Devil’s Men opens this Friday (12/7) in New York, at the Cinema Village.

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