Review by Dan Skip Allen
Recently, there have been more and more reboots, reimaginings, sequels, and rehashes of the classics. It has become an epidemic in the film industry over the last twenty or so years. Filmmakers and studios can't seem to develop new properties, and even when they do actually make something new and interesting, they are quick to pump out another very similar or a sequel. Sadly, Twist is another film in the former category.
Like the Academy Award-winning film from 1968, Oliver Oliver, Twist is based on the classic literary character Oliver Twist from Charles Dickens. In that film, Bill Sykes was played by screen legend Oliver Reed, but in Twist, the character is a woman played by world-renowned actress Lena Headey. This is another twist, pun intended, on the film. Like the '68 film, Oliver, known in this film primarily as Twist, is taken in by a ragtag group of thieves led by Fagan (Academy Award-winner Michael Caine).
Twist is a modern retelling of this story. It has all the modern touches to it as well, such as using technology to do the thieving. Caine's Fagan enlists his young pupils into stealing a prized painting from an art dealer he has a history with. The main characters Twist (Rafferty Law), The Artful Dodger (Rita Ora), Red (Sophie Simnett), and Batsey (Fran Drameh) are the crew that is the focus of the film. They embrace the newcomer. The antagonist does not though and uses him as a means to an end to hurt another member of the crew.
Twist uses a lot of common tropes from previous heist movies such as the Ocean's franchise and others to get to the crux of this story. At its heart, it's a story of acceptance and companionship between this group of misfits. They even make a point to say they have to eat together to be part of a family. That's the main focus of the dynamic between this group. They really bond together as a unit in the film. That is what makes this film work despite its obvious homage to other films.
Michael Caine added some gravitas to this film. He is the elder statesman in a cast filled with relative newcomers aside from Headey. He brings his usually fun-loving demeanor to this role. His being here is a cue for the director, Martin Owen. Owen needed someone of Caine's status in this film. Seeing his name in the credits will help get people to see this film. He's a big enough draw, especially in Great Britain, Headey's a good draw as well.
There is a little bit of a romance in the film and that will draw in the female audience. The two leads, Law and Simnett, have good chemistry with one another. I was drawn to their relationship as much as anything else in the film. They were smartly paired together. The two are relative newcomers and they didn't show their youthfulness as far as acting goes. They seemed like sealed pros. They anchored the film very well. It was a very good element in a film with a lot going on in it.
Overall this was an entertaining rehash of this classic character and story. The acting was solid from all the relative newcomers and veterans like Caine and Headey. The director and writers seemed like they had a good grasp on the material and it showed in the end product. Even though we as the public are inundated with reboots, rehashes, sequels, and reimaginings it doesn't mean they can't be good. This one proves that. It's a solid film all the way around.
Twist hits VOD on July 30.