Twist… Oliver Twist. Yes, a new take on an old tale, and a position has just opened up at the local knock-off shop as we first see thief Tom Chitling on the run, enjoying some parkour over London’s cityscapes, but then things don’t quite go to plan…
For the new guy, people call him Twist (Raff Law, son of Jude Law, hence the similarity) rather than Oliver because that’s hip and cool, etc, although it’s also good for SEO purposes when viewers are searching for your film, rather than titling yet another film with the first name.
Orphaned as a young boy, he now sleeps on the street rather than do the usual thing of getting a job and a flat or house, and spends his life painting graffiti on the sides of buildings while dangling dangerously from the roof. How does he afford all that spray paint and equipment while he lives off-grid? That isn’t explained.
The Red Hand Gang joining our titular hero is made up of Dodge (Rita Ora – yes, apparently an actress also), Batsey (Franz Drameh), and the tomboyish Red (Sophie Simnett). It’s clear Oliver will end up with her, whose real name is Nancy, but then this update has to be all hip and trendy, like I said.
They’re led by Fagin, played by Michael Caine (Tenet) who, in his later years, is still stealing a living in easy roles. He’s planning a big job…
But every crime caper needs a baddie. In the 80s, we had greats like Alan Rickman in Die Hard, and Paul Freeman as Belloq in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. In 2021, we have… David Walliams. Yep, the casting pool was bone dry on that day.
He plays art dealer Dr Crispin Losberne who strangely, for Walliams, likes women. The rag-tag bunch plan to rip him off because he did the same to Fagin some time ago. Initially, the plan is to ‘borrow’ his phone, clone it, and return it back to him before he even realised anything’s amiss, and the bigger game is to steal many of his paintings, but it’s hardly The Thomas Crown Affair.
Lena Headey tries to be dominating as Sikes, but is about as effective at dominating people as a man with no hands can dominate opening a packet of crisps. Plus, when (not much of a spoiler) Red reveals that she’s bisexual, following Sikes giving her a full-on snog in front of everyone, it just screams of diversity being crowbarred in for no reason.
Twist has zero intellectual clout to it, but then it’s just trying to be a daft family comedy, even including a silly moment when the cops try to catch him, but just end up with his trousers. I’m surprised that didn’t happen to Walliams’ character.
However, there’s some decent music in this such as The Fratellis’ Chelsea Dagger, and The Vaccines’ Norgaard.
As a few asides, the place where they all live is in rather a state, and looks like it’s been decorated by any old crap from an antiques shop, rhere’s some rather unnecessary and pointless violence in a brief pub fight, and one major issue I had is that the preview I saw didn’t have subtitles, while Headey often talks quietly or mumbles, while the score drowns her out. In fact, other characters also mumble, but then in terms of plot, it’s hardly The Usual Suspects.
Plus, there’s two inconsequential characters called Ron and Moody, as a nod to the late actor Ron Moody, played Fagin in the 1968 movie, Oliver!
Noel Clarke‘s own production company, Unstoppable, is behind this, and he gives himself a cameo as cop Brownlow, making me think that’s in homage to The Bill stalwart DCI Charles Brownlow. His producer colleague Jason Maza plays the other cop, Bedwin.
Twist is on Sky Cinema from Friday January 29th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 89 minutes
Release date: January 29th 2021
Studio: Sky Cinema
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Director: Martin Owen
Producers: Noel Clarke, Ben Grass, Jason Maza, Matt Williams
Writers: Sally Collett, John Wrathall
Based on an original idea by: The Brothers Lynch, Simon Thomas
Novel: Charles Dickens
Music: Neil Athale
Oliver Twist: Raff Law
Red: Sophie Simnett
Sikes: Lena Headey
Fagin: Michael Caine
Dodge: Rita Ora
Batsey: Franz Drameh
Brownlow: Noel Clarke
Bedwin: Jason Maza
Dr Crispin Losberne: David Walliams
Tom Chitling: Dominic Di Tommaso
Young Twist 1: Samuel Leakey
Young Twist 2: Finlay Pearson
Warden Bumble: Leigh Francis
Estella: Jade Alleyne
Tate Security Guard: Martin Owen
Taxi driver: Adam J Bernard
Architect: Elliot James Langridge
Brittles: Decca Heggie
Rosie: Tanya Burr
Ron: Nick Revern
Moody: Stephen Uppal
Auctioneer: Rick Warden
Dotherboy’s Security guard: Ian Sharp
Porter: Ali Cook
Deliveroo riders: Taylor Maza, Jack Dean
Buyer: Ben Grass
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.