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Scarlett Alice Johnson,
A poor script ruins this interesting and relevant tale
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
Frankie (Ray Winstone) is an impassioned manager of a troubled football club near the bottom of the league. But things appear to brighten up when he signs up promising new talent Joel (Ike Hamilton) who'll score the goals to get them further up the table. But Frankie's agent son Martin (Danny Dyer) has undercut the lad, and when Joel finds out about this, the relationship between all three of them turns sour. Joel starts to become corrupted by his new life of instant fame and fortune, Martin's reputation gets smeared in the mud and Frankie clings on like a dog to a bone to the club that he's failing to manage. In the devious, money making machine modern football has become, everyone is devious and no-one can be trusted.
'Our national sport' (which it is), over the years, has certainly gone far from being something that was only reported on the back pages of the newspapers to something that is predominantly on the front of them, more for what the players do off the pitch than on it, with the 'celebrity' tag that a lot of footballers carry nowadays. But football itself has also hit the headlines, with players as young of 16 from very working class backgrounds suddenly getting paid a ridiculous amount of money that they are too young and poorly educated to know how to use properly, along with the fame that comes from representing a national team that they also can't cope with. That's not to mention the corruption, scandals and back-handers that go on behind the chair-room doors, which All in the Game aims to get under the skin of. And while it's an ambitious idea, sadly a poor script, with a weak narrative flow, stops it from making the impact it could have.
As for the performances, no one could accuse Winstone of putting anything less than his heart and soul into this, which is just as admirable when you consider how his career stateside was taking off with roles in films like King Arthur and The Departed, but the simple fact is his character is just not believable. No way would a manager this loud and obnoxious be managing a team at Premiership level. Support wise, Dyer does nothing wrong, but the poor script gives his character some weak dialogue and this rubs off on his performance. Hamilton is impressive as your typical young football star with a lot of talent but not a lot of brains, but it's a testament to how poor the script is that there's a scene where he's unpleasant to his mother, showing a dark side that success has brought out in him, and this scene is never explored any further. This is just one of many potential sub-plots that are started but the bad writing never bothers to round off.
This was an inspired idea that if it had a better story could have worked wonders. As it is, it manages to be more Half in the Game than All in the Game. **
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