Willie Stark (Sean Penn) rises up from the Louisianan swamps to the governor's mansion, accompanied by reporter and associate Jack Burden (Jude Law). Jack has a father figure in Judge Irwin (Anthony Hopkins), and has long carried a torch for Anne Stanton (Kate Winslet), whose brother, Adam (Mark Ruffalo) is wooed by Stark for an important medical position. But then Jack helps Willie get information that the latter uses to blackmail the judge ... This remake of the 1949 All the King's Men is inferior in every way. Sean Penn [Mystic River] plays with his customary dynamism, but his gesticulating in certain sequences borders on the ludicrous and his southern accent is so thick that there are times you can hardly understand him. While Jude Law [Black Sea] has his moments, through most of the movie you get the impression that he just wants to go off somewhere and get a good night's sleep. The father-son dynamic between the two men is lost because Penn and Law look around the same age, although Penn is the older by twelve years. Events that are played up in the original movie are so downplayed in the remake that it's as if they never happened. We hardly see Stark's wife, his son has been written out of the movie altogether (eliminating a development that was a key plot point in the original) , and Mercedes McCambridge's character in the original, now played by Patricia Clarkson [Far From Heaven], is practically reduced to a walk-on. Jackie Earle Haley is scary in every sense of the word. Badly directed (despite some pseudo-artistic touches), and with a poor script, as well as a cast that has done much better work in other films, All the King's Men is a tedious misfire.
Verdict: Stick with the original. **.