Twist (2021) Review
Starring a who’s who of “oh, them” with the likes of Rita Ora, Noel Clarke, David Walliams and, picking up another cheque, Michael Caine, TWIST purports to be a contemporary reinvention of Dickens’ timeless classic, but it’s only modern in the sense of modern being defined by a committee of middle-aged studio executives. It’s the version of OLIVER TWIST that Lindsey Naegle would have signed off on after adding Poochie to “The Itchy & Scratchy Show”.
It opens perkily enough introducing Twist (Raff ‘son of Jude’ Law) as a homeless graffiti artist, albeit one with a heart of gold and a penchant for thumbing his nose at authority – in this case authority being Traffic Warden Beedle (Leigh Francis) but before too long it gives way to a turgid mix of flat line readings and interminably tame parkour sequences that immediately bring to mind the Michael Scott OFFICE meme.
In KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, Eggsy is rescued from a life of petty crime and pettier free running by Colin Firth’s dapper Agent Galahad. TWIST, in effect, shows what would happen if instead he’d been recruited by Rita Ora wearing a hoodie and calling herself ‘Dodger’, on behalf of criminal gang leader Fagin (Caine). Performances range from the passable to the poor although in amongst so much mediocrity, Lena Headey still manages to be rather good as Sikes.
With nine credited writers (not including Dickens) and forty-eight (yes, forty-eight) producers, it would be charitable to suggest the creators of TWIST have read the Cliffs Notes of OLIVER TWIST let alone the original novel but whatever source they’ve used its one which is largely robbed of Dickens’ pointed social and moral commentary leaving nothing but some character names behind ready to be worn by completely unrelated characters like knock-off Gucci couture. Appropriately, rather than using the source material at hand for inspiration, it sets off on a light-fingered spree stealing shamelessly from the likes of THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, a grab bag of Guy Ritchie movies and, especially, the OCEAN’S ELEVEN series.
They may have been going for gritty and, in Cockney rhyming slang terms, they probably succeed but it borders on parody at times, albeit without ever once managing to be intentionally funny. The 90s Britpop soundtrack doesn’t exactly help its street cred either and TWIST ends up being all pocket and no pick.