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.
Fagin (Michael Caine), Dodge (Rita Ora) and Sykes (Lena Headey) are plucked from the pages of the Charles Dickens novel and dropped into contemporary London. With art theft, parkour and East London chicanery, this retelling has more than a Twist or two.
Charles Dickens was both a prolific storyteller and cultural documentarian, who has been translated into every conceivable language. Oliver Twist, one of his numerous novels, was most famously adapted in 1968 with Mark Lester in the title role and Ron Moody on scene stealing form as Fagin. Twenty first century Twist might have the soundtrack, but that is where comparisons end when it comes to millennial Oliver.
This retelling feels lightweight, insubstantial and bears little resemblance to its source material. Michael Caine is neither a mischievous miser nor comedic curmudgeon as the patriarchal Fagin, while Rita Ora never comes close to embodying the Artful Dodger. Only Lena Headey manages to briefly resurrect the long dead spirit of a malevolent Oliver Reed as Sykes, but even that flounders without back up.
There is a silver lining however in Raff Law as the eponymous Twist. Coming across like a young Taron Egerton circa Kingsman: Secret Service, he is able to imbue this film with something worthwhile. Although the script and direction do everyone a disservice, Raff Law walks away unscathed as do the others involved. From the get go Twist never gets off the blocks and perpetually loses momentum, forever threatening to do something before fumbling a lacklustre finale.
David Walliams, Noel Clarke and Leigh Francis also feature in this for reasons which are not always obvious. As art dealer, police officer and traffic warden respectively their roles are paper thin. That none of them get enough time to build a performance has a lot to do with it. An accusation which could easily be levelled at the principal players too, as Twist never really settles on tone either.
Neither London heist nor capital city thriller, Twist tries to distract with lashings of parkour and fancy camerawork. A technique which only underlines the fundamental failings which lay in its narrative structure. Lena Headey and Michael Caine have been in better, while Noel Clarke clearly had bills to pay. As much as there is nothing diabolically bad about Twist, it is unlikely to leave an impression. If the script had been more robust, those characters more than mere archetypes and Twist more faithful things might have been different. However, as it stands there is little to recommend in a film which never comes close to honouring its author.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★