Twist review – try-hard reboot spray paints over Dickens' tale

Rafferty Law’s young hero is a graffiti artist and Michael Caine’s Fagin an ex-art dealer in this under-par update of Oliver Twist

Michael Caine already has the distinction of appearing in what many believe is the greatest Dickens adaptation of all time: The Muppets Christmas Carol, in which he played Scrooge. Now he is Fagin in this try-hard modern reboot of Oliver Twist, in which the plot and indeed meaning of the original has been jettisoned, leaving few of the characters – though the original’s tiny, sticky-fingered tealeaves are now promoted to supercool young adulthood. It never really comes to life and there’s a kids-TV feel to most of it, although the free-running scenes are watchable enough, and Caine’s disguise as a grumpy Russian plutocrat with a fake moustache raises some laughs.

Rafferty Law (the dead spit of his dad, Jude Law) plays Twist, a young graffiti artist who gets roped into street crime and finds himself hanging out with some cheeky but nonviolent young chancers in Fagin’s employ: a gender-switched Dodge (Rita Ora), and a character called Red (Sophie Simnett), who is in an abusive relationship with another gender-switched character, Sikes, played by Lena Headey. Caine’s Fagin turns out to be a former art dealer ruined by an unscrupulous competitor (enjoyably played by David Walliams), so Fagin plans an elaborate robbery to get his own back on this absolute rotter.

And so we are in caper-theft territory, with people disguising themselves as police officers, lowering themselves into lifts from a hole in a ceiling, spray painting over CCTV cameras and pinching Old Masters. Noel Clarke and Jason Maza are Brownlow and Bedwin, the flat-footed coppers on Twist’s trail, but hardly able to keep up with his parkour shenanigans. This movie’s not unlikable, but the action and comedy are under par.

• Twist is released on Sky Cinema on 29 January.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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