This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Alfie (Jude Law). Mans’ man, ladies’ man, man about town. Cheeky cockerney Laahndaner who knows what he wants and it’s as many women as he feels like. Devoting his life to the cause of minimally attached couplings doesn’t seem like much of a life to me, but as he frequently tells us in his direct to camera commentary it keeps him happy.
He keeps himself in dapper clothing and whatnot with a job with a limo hire firm along with his best mate Marlon (Omar Epps), although he’s not in quite the same fine fettle as Alfie. Realising that Julie? (Marisa Tomei?) is indeed the true love of his life a few days after ditching her to play the field, his time is largely spent feeling sorry for himself. No prizes for guessing Alfie’s reactions.
Right, that’s about as much of the plot as I really need to relate given that it’s largely inconsequential. The boy thinks he finds true love with Sienna Miller but that falls apart as quickly as it comes together, and by the end of the film we’re left with no real feeling he’s learned much apart from ‘relationships can be messy’. Oooh, how enlightening.
Our very own Rhythmwiz summed this up neatly enough, ‘Vapid’ – direct quote, fact fans. We’d have to say exactly the same thing about it’s original incarnation of course, as although the faces and places have changed this is very much a chip off the old block. Which brings us neatly on to the major difference in the films – the major character.
The original film basically made Michael Caine a known quantity before movies like Get Carter and The Italian Job made him a legend. It brought a promising and talented young actor to the world’s attention in a vehicle that lives or dies by the charisma of the lead actor. Big shoes for Jude Law to fill, but you’d think he’d be capable. He’s a talented, likable actor that’s given us some fantastic performances over the years but never sparked the public’s imagination enough to be a fully fledged superstar, for whatever that’s really worth.
This was supposed to break Jude Law out of the shadows and into the firmament, well, relatively speaking. From star to supernova would perhaps be a better analogy. ‘Famous’ to ‘More Famous’ would be a more conventional way to say it. However you slice it, this should have been his finest hour. While he’s certainly serviceable enough, this turns our to merely be an hour with no adjectives necessary.
Alfie‘s main problem is that it has dialogue, and more critically monologues that demand to be spoken in the ‘charming’ cockney dialect. It’s not, which is perhaps a small blessing but one that gives the movie a strangely sanitised and somewhat hollow ring. The focus is clearly and understandably on giving this a broader appeal than the U. K.-centric forebear which is a laudable enough aim but as Law’s delivery his uninspiring catchphrase ‘Do you know what I mean?’ shows most tellingly it’s a script that yearns to roll it’s r’s and slur a little but can’t be taken off that leash lest the backers get antsy.
It seems to dilute the movie’s effect, and if it had any message associated with it has been lost completely. Which is an interesting bit of intellectual analysis but of no effect if the movie turns out to be enjoyable enough anyway. Hell, no-one’s going to claim that Freddy Vs. Jason is a staggering work of breathtaking genius but it’s an entertaining enough way to waste a few hours. Sadly, as you may have gathered by the tone of the above scribbling it’s not so much fun as it is adequate. There’s nothing too terribly wrong with the movie as such, but Law just can muster up the same captivating performance in the lead as Caine could in the earlier film.
Part of my general distaste for remakes is that it’s a rare occasion that they can surpass or even come close to the original, which sort of makes it difficult to recommend the newer effort over the older. This is the trap into which Alfie has fallen – it’s like the first one but not as good. Ah well, better luck when it’s tried again in 2032.