Complete A-Z list

All the King's Men (2006)


Stars: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, Anthony Hopkins

Director: Steven Zaillian

We've waited 57 years for Robert Rossen's power-corrupts drama to be remade and, on the evidence of this turgid affair, the wait was too long.

The power and purity of vision that so distinguished the Oscar-winning 1949 film are blurred in this version, which has Penn (in the role that won Broderick Crawford one of the original's three Oscars) as the would-be governor of Louisiana, and Law as the newspaperman who becomes his shadow.

Hopkins, Winslet, Kathy Baker, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo and Jackie Earle Haley round out a strong cast, but they're only shadow boxing with little help from director Zaillian's dull, monotonous screenplay, whose pace varies from slow to static.

Penn's rants are one-note and his descent from idealism to corruption is so sloppily drawn that we can't latch on to its downward curve. Even Hopkins' upright judge proves to have a weakness in his past, but it's no more clearly explained than why Penn's plans for a massive health centre are fraudulent.

Political dramas need to be a lot sharper than this one to hit us where we live.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Sony/Columbia. Colour by De Luxe.
128 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Oct 2006