Directed by Martin Owen.
Starring Raff Law, Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Franz Drameh, Sophie Simnett, David Walliams, Rita Ora, Leigh Francis, Noel Clarke, and Jason Maza.
A Modern take on the classic tale of Oliver Twist.
Twist is a modernized retelling of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist, now set in current day London with street hustlers that parkour nonstop around the city and dress in rejected wardrobe fittings from a Kingsman movie. Early on, the acrobatics (which are actually captured with clarity and strikingly choreographed) are somewhat fun to watch. However, even that gets painfully unnecessary with characters flipping and somersaulting their way through a park at night for no discernible reason other than style is the only thing this interpretation of the story has going for it. And even that’s excessive with no substance.
Michael Caine plays Fagin, a clothing store owner in charge of a ragtag group of orphans working under his command to pull off various heists within the art scene. The newest recruit turns out to be Oliver (Raff Law, the son of Jude Law making his amateurish but decent proper debut performance in a role that seems tailor-made for Taron Egerton before the Kingsman series came into existence and turned him into a star), who has his own connections to art galleries frequently visiting them with his mother before she died when he was young. Making acquaintances with Red (Sophie Simnett), Batesy (Franz Drameh), and some others finding a common enemy in unreasonable police officers, Oliver sticks around. Fagin also believes that what the young man is really looking for is simply familial love.
It’s not as functional a family as one might believe, as a prologue shows a different member of the crew meeting a deadly fate, immediately causing us to question the honesty and motives of Fagin. Essentially, it turns out that he is the lesser of two evils working alongside Sikes (Lena Headey), who is really running the operation and cares even less about the lives of the orphans employed. She also gets a line reading of a spin on the classic “can I have some more” line that is so full of cringe, I vigorously debated closing the movie and not even reviewing it. Although, at least she is giving a semi-competent performance compared to Michael Caine, who feels like it was in his contract that he would be allowed to sit down while filming all of his scenes without having to do anything remotely taxing or physical.
Director Martin Owen is clearly responsible for the film’s aggressively punk and rebellious style of spray paint tagging, bullish behavior, and constant twisting through the air (it kind of feels like watching someone play a platformer videogame that just can’t help themselves from pressing the jump button when there’s no reason to), that much is a given. Somehow, there are also about six different writers attached to Twist, ranging from writers to credits of “additional material,” and three other names contributed with initially coming up with the idea for the story, which is baffling considering how cliché and bare-bones the actual plot is.
There is a developing romance with obstacles in the way of coming to fruition, betrayals, multiple heists that never really build any sustained energy, and Michael Caine donning an assortment of absolutely ridiculous disguises. Despite all of that, Twist is not painful to watch, more so embarrassing and lame. The parkour is the only good idea Twist has going for it. Rest assured, you won’t be asking for more.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com