VOD film review: Twist (2021)
Ivan Radford | On 29, Jan 2021
Director: Martin Owen
Cast: Lena Headey, Michael Caine, Noel Clarke, Rita Ora, Rafferty Law
Watch Twist online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV
“If happy endings is your thing, you’re watching the wrong version of this story.” That’s Twist (Rafferty Law) in Twist, a modern reinvention of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. He’s certainly right about the second part.
The film, which is directed by Martin Owen and written by Owen and Sally Collett with input from many others, takes the Dickensian orphan everyone knows and loves and turns him into a graffiti-spraying tearaway with a heart of gold – within 15 minutes of the try-hard opening titles, he’s been compared to Banksy. His police-dodging ways capture the attention of Batesy (Franz Drameh) and Dodge (Rita Ora), two young criminals who are under the wing of Fagin (Michael Caine). And so Twist finds himself recruited into their gang of grifters for an art heist that will see Fagin even out an old score.
Quicker than you can say “Guy Ritchie”, the whole thing races out of the blocks to get to its twisting, turning endgame – and while there’s real energy to the enthusiastic affair, you wonder whether anyone involved paused to consider what was going on. There’s no real resemblance to Dickens in this plot or even in the characters, which include Noel Clarke as a dogged detective and David Walliams as a sleazy art dealer. You suspect that the Hustle-like hijinks that unfold would actually be a lot more entertaining if it didn’t come with the Oliver baggage attached.
With it attached, you get the sense that the production is trying a little to hard to be different, with over-the-top costumes, over-cooked and unfunny dialogue and a soundtrack that never met a needle drop it didn’t like – although one moment accompanied by the Zutons is a surprising treat. Lena Headey, Noel Clarke and Raff Law all bring charisma to the screen, while Owen’s camera does some nifty choreography during a pub-based punch-up, but it’s more style than substance – something that becomes particularly apparent during a dire sequence featuring Michael Caine sporting a dreadful fake moustache and dubious Russian accent. Despite its namesake, this Oliver doesn’t leave you wanting more.
Twist (2021) is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of an £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.