By: Anthony Francis
An updated version of Charles Dickens 1883 classic “Oliver Twist” redone as an Action-Heist film full of Parkour stunts?
I cannot say with any honesty that you “had me at hello” but consider me intrigued!
Dickens’ characters have been moved to the 21st century for a film that is silly and completely unnecessary, but one that does have its moments, be they very few and far between.
With his mother dead, Oliver Twist (Rafferty Law) grows up on the mean streets of London and becomes a cult-popular graffiti artist who “tags” the sides of high rises. Twist is something if a daredevil Banksy if you will.
In a not so artful way, he meets Dodge (Rita Ora). She brings him to the criminal world of Fagin (Michael Caine, always giving it his all).
As we know from the classic tale, Fagin runs a band of young thieves, and they are now planning to steal a priceless painting in an act of revenge on a former partner, Losberne (David Walliams), who wronged Fagin in the past.
Rafferty Law is the son of Jude Law and Sadie Frost, both extremely good actors. Their son might have the acting chops of his Dad and Mum, but this film keeps his character too one note to tell. Law is fine enough in the lead role, but nothing stands out about his performance.
Rita Ora fairs better as Dodge. It is a character with a little danger, a bit of attitude, and some heart. The actress pulls it off rather flawlessly.
Michael Caine, as good as he is, seems out of place here. His performance works but it seems like another of his infamous paycheck roles. Sadly, the screenplay from Sally Collet and John Wrathall (and 5 others!) reduces Fagin to a minor character. Save for a few important lines, he is not given much to do. Still, Sir Michael is always watchable.
Lena Headey lends her stern and occasionally badass presence as the psychotic gun-toting Sikes, a dangerous woman who puts everyone’s life in serious jeapordy.
Make no mistake, this film is not interested in trying to take its source material seriously. This is Dickens meets “Ocean’s 11” set in Guy Ritchie-esque territory with some good action moments.
Director Martin Owen’s tone is a bit all over the place and renders the final product a bit sloppy in its structure. Owen doesn’t have a good sense of transition from scene to scene, which makes the few good moments too clunky and disjointed.
However, the director gets good mileage out of his action scenes and the parkour is well choreographed. It is always fun to see good parkour stunts in films and this works pretty well here. It is obvious that director Owen is a fan of the style.
It is unclear if the writers and the director cared whether or nottheir audience knows the story, if they were wanting to pay homage to the tale, or if they were just having a laugh with the source material.
Whatever the reason for this film, it does have moments that entertain. Not many, but there is a (somewhat) good time to be had.
A head-scratcher of a film to be sure, Charles Dickens may be turning in his grave over this one. For the rest of us, “Twist” is a silly movie with some fun action that is worth a one-time viewing.