Film Review: Twist

STUDIO: Sky TV/Saban | DIRECTOR: Martin Owen | CAST: Rafferty Law, Michael Caine, Noel Clarke, Lena Headey, Rita Ora, Sophie Simnett
RELEASE DATE: July 30, 2021
SPECS: R | 90 min. | Action crime drama

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

We’ve had David Lean’s masterfully moody 1948 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel, the 1968 Oscar-winning musical version of the hit stage show and even Roman Polanski’s 2005 stylishly somber go at the material with Ben Kingsley as as a snaggle-toothed Fagin.

So why not a modern crime story based on Oliver Twist?

Well, after watching Twist, a production made under the auspices of Great Britain’s Sky TV, the better question may be “Why?”

Quick editing, pop music, modern technology, and jumping off of buildings parkour-style are some of the elements used to make the story appealing to viewers, but despite the efforts of director Martin Owen (Killers Anonymous), Twist is a fairly inert affair throughout.

Here the story centers on Ollie Twist (Rafferty Law, son of Jude) an orphan and street urchin with the nickname of “Twist” and a knack for spray-painting neat illustrations on the sides of buildings. He joins a batch of other scalawags, including Dodge (singer Rita Ora) and Batesy (Franz Drameh, The Gentlemen), to join forces with master criminal Fagin (Michael Caine, Tenet) and take down a nefarious art dealer (David Walliams, Murder Mystery)  who has done Fagin wrong. Add a female variation on Bill Sikes, played by Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey, and Nancy (Sophie Simnett, The Lodge), who is smitten with Sikes, which makes the attraction an oh-so-modern same sex attraction, and you have a checklist of the major characters from the Dickens’ text.

Yet except for guiding his group of scoundrels, Caine, with caddish glee and sometimes donning disguises to dupe his nemesis, there’s not much adrenaline to the proceedings here and the Dickens’ allusions just seem arbitrary after a while.

Ironically, this film could use some genuinely surprising twists.

Watch Twist

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.