Written by and starring Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, All Things Fall Apart tells the tale of Deon (Jackson), a promising college football star stricken with cancer just before the NFL draft. If you or someone you love is going through – or ever has gone through – cancer treatment, I strongly urge you to avoid this movie. Actually, I urge everyone to avoid it, but I must emphasize avoidance for that particular demographic. All Things Fall Apart carries a rather repugnant message of giving up rather than trying to persevere.
The movie is such a narrative mess I’m not going to even try to untangle it. Basically, Deon appears to be headed for a career in the NFL. He is living carelessly, hooking up with every consenting tramp he comes into contact with. He lives at home with his bitchy mom Bee (Lynn Whitfield) and her stern boyfriend Eric (Mario Van Peebles, who also directed the film). Bee and Eric are itching for their golden boy to go pro so they can share in the wealth. Meanwhile, Deon’s nerd brother Sean (Cedric Sanders) openly despises and disrespects Deon for all the attention he gets.
Deon discovers he has an aggressive form of cancer, which derails his career aspirations. I’ve never seen a family depicted as so thoroughly unsympathetic and unsupportive of such a situation. Bee and Eric are desperate for Deon to get over the cancer – not merely so his life doesn’t end, but so he can start playing ball again. Sean hates his brother even more – continuing to physically assault Deon – because he blames him for their financial situation. The treatment seems to work, and Deon eventually discovers a second calling: selling used cars. Some cowboy pulls up to the used car lot that Sean works at and mistakes the visiting Deon as a salesman. Deon pretends to be just that, convincing this hick to buy a Chrysler for $1,500 below the dealership’s asking price via a pushy and profanity-laden pitch. The manager is so impressed with Deon’s gumption he hires him and gives Sean a promotion.
Deon’s mom and father figure eventually soften in their attitude. Although they are both still totally unlikable assholes, they no longer view Deon as an incompetent failure now that he has cash coming in. I have to get into a spoiler here to discuss the ending, so stop reading if you find yourself enticed to watch the movie for yourself.
After experiencing some physical problems, Deon is informed that his cancer has come back. So his doctor, played by second-billed Ray Liotta (who has a total of three scenes), asks him to walk with him to the hospital’s back parking lot. Dr. Brintall, it turns out, is a former smoker who still craves second-hand smoke. He’s more comfortable talking out back around other smokers. He advises the financially struggling Deon to forgo treatment and instead use his remaining funds for a nice party. Without so much as a second opinion or investigating financial assistance programs, Deon decides this is the most reasonable course of action.
A running theme throughout All Things Fall Apart is a trite, cliché theme that the United States is not taking care of its own people. Deon and his friends’ college professors are textbook socialist extremists, constantly slamming the capitalistic U.S. for it resistance to redistribute the wealth. The political message of this movie (which it poorly articulates) is that America should provide everyone in the country with an equal share of everything. Yet the movie endorses a system in which one single doctor (not even an oncologist, for that matter) should be able to advise a cancer patient to give up hope and let the disease claim his life without a fight. What kind of mixed message is that?
All Things Fall Apart is presented on Blu-ray in a 1080p transfer. The movie was shot digitally and looks extremely clean and focused. The picture is always sharp and fine detail is well defined, especially during audience footage during the football sequences. The only problem is that black levels are extremely shallow, with nighttime or dark scenes looking more like gray than black. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is overkill for a movie like this. While the football games provide a relatively immersive experience, most of the movie is dialogue. The dialogue is sometimes a little on the quiet side. 50 Cent’s mumbling could’ve benefitted from boosted levels. But the mix is free of distortion.
The only extra included on this bare bones Blu-ray release is a standard definition trailer. All Things Fall Apart is a downbeat movie that is unlikely to inspire anyone. Curtis Jackson displays considerable dedication to the role. He transforms from a 200-plus pound athlete into a scrawny weakling after Deon’s initial chemotherapy treatment. Somewhere deep down, I think Jackson, his co-screenwriter Brian Miller, and Peebles all had good intentions for this movie. The end result proudly boasts a message of hopelessness that some may consider realistic. I found it to be a highly unpleasant viewing experience.