Twist: Film Review


Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist has been brought to life onscreen many times – and here’s the latest version – Twist – which brings it bang up to date with a modern London take.

This crime drama stars Rafferty Law as Twist, an orphan who likes free running and is a skilled street artist. His skills catch the attention of Dodge (Rita Ora) and Batesey (Franz Drameh), petty criminals who work for Fagin (Michael Caine). Fagin takes Twist in and offers him a home and a family – but it comes with a price; he must help them pull off a big art heist against his enemy Losberne (David Walliams). Twist also develops feelings for Red, real name Nancy (Sophie Simnett), and that puts him directly in the firing line of the loose cannon Sikes (Lena Headey).

Besides the recognisable character names and the relationships between them being similar, Twist is very different to the original Oliver Twist and it hardly ever felt familiar, which is good as that means it’s treading new ground and not telling the story we’ve seen many many times, but it also made me wonder what the point of connecting it to Twist was. If you changed the characters’ names, it has very little in common with it.

The film has a lot of energy, with frenetic camerawork following Twist and Red as they enjoy free running and a cool upbeat soundtrack, but it is more focused on keeping the action going and pushing the story forward than giving the characters depth, motives for their actions, or creating a screenplay that’s easy to follow. Considering the story is relatively straightforward, I struggled to keep up with the twists and turns of the heist and who had outsmarted whom, and I also didn’t understand why Sikes was the way she was.

Playing a Cockney geezer isn’t much of a stretch for Caine, who has starred in a Dickens movie adaptation before (The Muppet Christmas Carol), so this role wasn’t exactly taxing, but he was still perfectly cast as Fagin, the fatherly figure in the crime collective. Law – who looks so much like his dad Jude Law – was the likeable moral compass, Drameh was entertaining as Batesey, and Simnett was my favourite as Red/Nancy, who had the biggest heart. I haven’t seen Walliams in a film in a while and he made me smile as the hapless victim of their scheme.

My least favourite was Ora because I couldn’t stop thinking she was Ora – I never once believed she was Dodge, and Headey went way overboard playing the menacing, out-of-control Sikes. I didn’t believe the performance at all, but that could also be down to the screenplay not giving Sikes enough background or motivation behind her actions.

I liked how the classic Twist tale has been given a modern update with gender-flipped, more diverse characters and an LGBTQ storyline, and it was an enjoyable enough watch but I struggled to keep up with it and forgot about it instantly.

Available on Sky Cinema from Friday 29th January

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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