“Twist” (92 min, rated PG-13 for scenes of violence and threat, thematic elements including sexuality and language). 4 out of 10
Not to be funny, but “Twist” is a modern day “twist” on Charles Dickens’ classic tale “Oliver Twist” set in modern day London. Like what Baz Luhrman did in “Romeo + Juliet” in the late 1990s (Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes), director Martin Owen, who co-wrote the screenplay with two others, adapted this complicated story in 90 minutes. movie. If only it didn’t take itself so seriously and infuse it more lightly, it might have helped. As it stands, “Twist” exceeds its goals by making its characters larger than life and overly colorful (and unfriendly), without the sleight of hand approach that would have served the film much better.
Main stars Michael Caine, as Fagin, and Lena Headey as Bill Sikes, one of the many gender-shifting roles – “Twist” tries to be cute with these iconic characters that won’t stop not here. The role of Oliver, here named Twist, played by Rafferty Law (he plays a graffiti artist), is not a child but a teenager; the Artful Dodger is played by a young girl in her twenties, Rita Ura; and the secondary characters in the book have all been altered to fit a hip, eye-catching story of murder, deception, and theft. It conforms to the book in a grand way, but cuts all of those intricate plot threads and character interconnections to a microscopic level. Those familiar with the book’s intonations will find fun interpretations of these clever characters and a much sillier storyline.
The overall story centers on a great sting operation concocted by Fagin, the master of these young adult orphans – all thieves and thugs – who follow his orders with a “T”, while bending to the will of the ruthless and murderous Sikes (and his dog, Bulls-eye, a Doberman in this film). There is also a love interest – between Sikes and Red (Sophie Simnet), “Nancy” from the book (who has a soft spot for Twist). Yes, it’s an abusive lesbian relationship, which is one of many twists (and twists and turns) that deviate from the original source material. Fagin’s devised caper theft, reminiscent of any of the “Ocean” movies, involves recovering expensive paintings that were stolen from him years ago by a rival villainous art collector (David Walliams) .
The tone of the film is on a hip-hop score with lots of jumping and dancing as these acrobatic kids escape authorities, dress in exquisite and colorful clothing and jewelry, and talk about street jive. It’s extremely fast-paced and outrageously overdone in both story content and character development, with Caine barely pulling off the slyly cunning role of Fagin and Headey channeling his evil character as Cersei from “Game of Thrones”. It’s exhausting to follow the convoluted plot. It’s not as fulfilling or satisfying as it might have been in its portrayal of these beloved characters – a story just too twisted for its own good.
“Twist” began streaming services on July 30.
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