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The Riddle
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Riddle More at IMDbPro »

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35 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Hoaxed and a terrible waste of time

2/10
Author: hagnor from United States
23 September 2007

Well, I got and saw this movie based on the rather high score here (7.1 now), and some of the good reviews. Usually IMDb is a good guide when it comes to score, though in this case I was very much deceived.

The movie is a present-day detective story, with Vinnie Jones as the investigator journalist, who investigates the death of a construction worker. Mixed with this is a made up Dickens' novel (called The Riddle, set in the 18th or 19th century), which also deals with a murder story. Both story lines are connected through the discovery of an unpublished manuscript.

Sounds interesting? It could have been, however this movie horribly fails in a number of areas : 1) Acting. Mediocre at best, but it is watchable. No worse than your average UK sitcom, though for a movie one expects a little better. Especially with a score of over 7. 2) Music. The music used is simply horrible, it distracts and it is annoying. Especially the pub music, and the music which plays in the journalist's apartment. 3) Storyline. This is a big joke. There are gaping plot holes everywhere and even the obligatory love story is so unrealistic that it's almost funny. Furthermore, without going into any detail, I can safely say that the ending is absurd, and one of the worst pieces of acting and storyline of the year. 4) Camera-work. At times camera positions and views are distracting, and serve absolutely no purpose to the "story".

I'm a bit of a movie fanatic, and watch on average 1 to 2 movies a day, but this is easily the worst movie I've seen in months. Don't waste your money or your time on this rubbish.

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40 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

Dreadful

1/10
Author: alan-352 from United Kingdom
20 September 2007

What more can I add? This is without doubt one of the worst films I've ever seen. Terrible acting, a daft script, tediously slow pace - even visible microphones dangling from the top of the screen. I could go on, but I really can't be bothered. I watched this for 90 minutes before the sense of losing the will to live became too great for me.

I can only assume that the first set of comments and votes were from people associated with the promotion of this insult to British film-making.

And worst still, I had to buy the Mail on Sunday to get it :-) The only reason the DVD hasn't now been redeployed as a coaster is that it now takes pride of place in my Top 10 Worst Films Ever collection.

Definitely one to be avoided.

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18 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Honest, guv, it fell off the back of a lorry

1/10
Author: electriconion99 from United Kingdom
26 September 2007

Ever notice how so many really bad films attract so many 10/10 votes? Not much of a Riddle how that happens, but this is not much of a film. There are two ways of looking at it being given away in the Mail On Sunday.

1. It's free, so you can't complain about it to much. 2. It's free, so it can't be much good.

My vote is number 2. The free DVD in the Sunday papers things is a recent trend and some great old movies have been given away. They're ones that have been out for ages and have made most of the money they'll ever make, so it's a case of anything else is a bonus. It's the last stop for old films, not the first for new ones, so you can guess how bad this must be to skip TV and DVD rental.

The plus points are that Vinnie Jones does try hard and Derek Jacobi is good as Dickens. The minus points are a longer list. Trying isn't the same as succeeding for poor Vinnie and Jacobi's other tramp character is talkative ham that's gone off. The story is very weak. The Dickens story does not have anything to do with the film's murders and feels like another movie slapped onto the script to make people think it's a British Dan Brown without the religion. The supporting cast are either there for the money (Vanessa Redgrave must be really hard up) or because they are friends or girlfriends of the filmmakers. It is also very, very long for what it is.

Vinnie taking his priceless Dickens story with him in his jacket pocket everywhere is good for a couple of laughs, but that's it. Not funny and very not good even for free.

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31 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Utterly dire

1/10
Author: aguycalledbruce from United Kingdom
17 September 2007

Words fail me for this appalling waste of two hours of anyone's life. The story is contrived to the point of complete incredibility.

The acting is leaden and so much of this is laughably dreadful. Vinnie Jones - so wonderful in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, is unbearably awful and unbelievable as Mike Sullivan, journalist.

I honestly can't ever remember seeing a worse film. It's only worth watching for the appalling continuity lapses. After Jones is handed a huge beating he emerges without a scratch on him. His girlfriend upends a drink over him and he chases her, emerging from the pub bone dry. It's quite dreadful, made all the worse by the talented actors who appear in it.

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35 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

The only Riddle is why on earth did Derek Jacobi appear in it!

2/10
Author: davoo-3 from United Kingdom
19 September 2007

A pretty awful film, I'm amazed the likes of Derek Jacobi & Vanessa Redgrave agreed to be in it, it's like an overlong episode from a poor TV detective series.

The biggest flaw has to be Vinnie Jones, he simply can't act, whoever had the bright idea of casting him as a leading man wants their head examining unless he put his own money into the project? He should stick to playing thugs, looking menacing & NOT speaking!

Also was central heating around in Dickens times as there were three big radiators behind his desk??

No wonder they gave this away free with a newspaper as no one would pay to see it.

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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

One of those films that just got made because it could, not because it should

3/10
Author: TrevorAclea from London, England
21 September 2007

The growth of tax funds and sale-and-leaseback schemes has led to a raft of unsaleable films that are gathering dust in laboratories and vaults all over the British Isles because they seem to be made purely because they fit the financial criteria rather than had any potential audience. A lucky few get a week at a small screen in London before going to budget DVD, but The Riddle distinguished itself by completely bypassing cinema, TV or even the rental market to premiere as a free gift DVD in the Mail on Sunday.

It's all too easy to see why this ended up being literally given away. Aside from a couple of glitches (a boom mike is clearly visible in one shot) it's not particularly badly made, and while Vinnie Jones comes over like modern British cinema's version of Freddie Mills Mills as the greyhound reporter who wants to move up to the crime desk and the supporting cast veer from ham to vaguely passable, nobody's distinguishing themselves here by being either outstandingly good or outstandingly bad: mediocrity is more the norm here. The real problem is that like so many sale-and-leaseback tax fund films, it's a 'soft' film - there's no reason to watch it. It exists because the circumstances existed for it to be made, but it lacks pace or forward momentum. It seems to be aiming for the Sunday teatime telly audience (despite being shot in Scope) but doesn't cut it. There are a couple of okayish ideas in this determinedly inoffensive tale of a unpublished Charles Dickens manuscript and a couple of suspicious deaths in modern-day Limehouse, but the mystery element is so painfully obvious - as is the last-minute supernatural twist (you'll never guess who Jacobi's literate tramp really is. What, you guessed?) - that you're almost expecting the Scooby Gang or the Double Deckers to turn up to solve it.

It's a very misconceived film for all kinds of reasons: a few cast members are playing double roles when they shouldn't even be playing one, and the whole shock reveal of the truth of the Dickens manuscript is completely bungled because it's all narrated in the first person by Dickens rather than the supposed character of the novel. The main murder in the film is clumsily integrated into the main plot, with characters suddenly reminding Vinnie that he's forgotten about that one already, heralding an increasingly desperate final half hour that sees wicked developer Jason Flemyng's secretary puts some Rohypnol in Vinnie's drink so she can have her wicked way with him and leave incriminating photos behind "to make you look a git with your girlfriend," leading to him having a dream where he talks to Charles Dickens ("You're Charles Dickings" "What's in a name?"), who offers the somewhat less than likely suggestion that "You read too many books." But all that's as nothing compared to the finale, which falls into utter absurdity, with logic and common sense going completely out the window as it plays like some bizarre Jacobean revenge tragedy with handguns on the banks of the Thames, with two-day guest stars Flemyng and Vanessa Redgrave looking like they'd much rather be somewhere else (Mel Smith turns up in a one-day cameo, so it's clear that the film's 'names' are mainly there for an easy $10k or to meet their alimony payments). The film's final image is so utterly absurd and pointless as to almost make it worth watching, though.

One curiosity is a fairly prominent role in the first third for Vera Day, a sort of prototype Liz Fraser and one-time mainstay of 50s British films - the barmaid in Hell Drivers, the barmaid in Quatermass II - here promoted to pub owner, while standup comedian Kenny Lynch turns up briefly to give the best performance as an old school gangster. Oh, and the late Gareth Hunt makes his last bow as - oh the irony - a coroner...

Just to round out the package, the freebie DVD also included a trailer for the director's other film with Vinnie Jones, Bog Bodies, a naff-looking British horror with transAtlantic scientists and Vinnie in Elmer Fudd duck hunter outfit terrorized by a reanimated 2000-year old sacrificial victim from the nearest peat bog ("Be wewwy, wewwy qwuiet: I'm hunting dwuids"). I can hardly wait...

The one thing I can guarantee, however, is that every indie producer in the UK is going to spend the next few weeks trying to find out exactly how much the Mail paid for the license to press the DVD (they paid Prince £250,000 for his new CD). With so many British tax-shelter indies on the shelf and with money so hard to find at the moment, this could become an interesting fallback market for British flicks.

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15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Nice idea, but

1/10
Author: edwardrevans from United Kingdom
21 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The riddle as a concept is an interesting idea, but i'm afraid is miscast, Vinnie if given the Hard man role is his element as in Lock Stock and Snatch. In this movie Vinnie plays a Newspaper sports writer (greyhounds to be precise),who during the course of the movie is easily is beaten up with ease and bundled over a balcony by a man who 10-15 years his senior. I'm sorry Vinnie is tough looks tough and has so to cast him like this is foolish. Trying to investigate the double murders of a friend and a drug addict found near the Thames. He takes on the role of policeman, whilst the real police are bit part players, interceeding with flashbacks from Charles Dickens.

When Vinnie is on screen his reputation precedes him he looks tough but does'nt in this part need act tough, snarling at the camera in parts. If you watch the Mean Machine, he is perfectly cast, and believable and does a very decent performance.

Getting back to the movie what confuses the matter somewhat is the flashback to Charles Dickens who is narrating a different story with characters who are also appear in present day, these two stories are it appears unrelated apart from the same actors are used.

The sound on the movie especially from Julie Cox is inaudible at times, and not really fleshed out what her role in the movie is short of Vinnies Love interest, she starts the film as a Detecive, but quickly becomes the Girlfriend.

The Death of the Prostitute is sort of answered but yet/not answered . Strip out the Charles Dickens stuff and you may have a decent movie.

Vinnie, is slowly becoming Britans Steven Segal, stick to the supporting actor role, your'e quite good at it.

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19 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Interesting - Jacobi is superb

8/10
Author: charlesDonnelly from London
22 September 2007

The Riddle is an enjoyable, tongue-in-cheek thriller that seems to take its inspiration from old radio detectives and noir novels.

It has two separate but intertwined stories, one about a sports writer try to solve the death of a friend and the other about a rediscovered book by Charles Dickens. Jacobi has different roles in both stories.

I was slightly baffled by some of the vitriolic comments until I read one lady who complained that there was 'some old guy' spouting gobbdygook. That would be Sir Derek Jacobi, giving the 'so much blood' speech by Charles Dickens after the death of Nancy.

Speaking personally, one of the world's greatest living actors reading words by the greatest writer of the 19th Century will do me.

One other thought. While I've never been a huge fan of Vinnie Jones, I was impressed by his range in this and his determination to move outside his usual roles. He deserves credit.

One for people who enjoy something quirky and intelligent.

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19 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

The original high IMDb rating is very misleading.....

3/10
Author: Phil Dunne from United Kingdom
19 September 2007

I could not believe the original rating I found when i looked up this film, 9.5? Unfortunately it looks like I am not alone.

The film, is slow and boring really, one of the sad things is that if the film had been given a realistic rating of around 5 or 6 then the expectation would not have been so high.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, so when watching the film, and seeing the poor story and acting, I am left giving it a 3/10 score.

Vinnie Jones is superb in Lock stock, and also Snatch, and he plays a great hard man, however, he should stick to this role. Its a bit like when Stallone and Schwarzenegger have done comedy films, they just don't work.

Neither can he play lead actor, he plays better as supporting or otherwise. When he plays lead, his acting talents are too 'in view' and shown up as not really very good. Mean Machine is another good example of this.

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13 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

The real riddle

1/10
Author: indioblack117 from United Kingdom
23 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It doesn't surprise me that the makers of this hopeless movie couldn't find a UK distributor, and then had to release it as a free DVD with a Sunday newspaper. The distributors could clearly see what the film-makers and the Sunday newspaper couldn't, that this was one movie that just wasn't going to recoup its costs.

Since it's a thriller about riddles, it would have helped if they'd picked a lead actor who could enunciate properly, rather than the mumbling Vinnie Jones who appears to pronounce "riddle" as "riell". And it would have helped if the dialogue hadn't been swamped by noisy locations or scenes flooded with distracting and inappropriate music. The plot is ludicrous: The lost Charles Dickens story supposedly helps our hero solve a series of modern murders, but so would a copy of Herge's Adventures Of Tintin, since the link between Dickens and Jones is more non-existent than tenuous. And we have the ridiculous premise that a would-be investigative journalist who lays his hands on a previously undiscovered Dickens manuscript, would take several days to read it, just so that flashbacks to Dickens can continue to be played throughout the movie, as if they had some connection to it. Which they don't. I mean, if you found a new Dickens manuscript, wouldn't you just go somewhere quiet and read it ? The film ends with one of those surprise revelations that have become mandatory since The Sixth Sense, but in this case it doesn't so much surprise you as insult your intelligence. If the film is suddenly going to turn supernatural at the twelfth hour, then revealing that Vinnie Jones is a robot might have been more acceptable. It might not have seemed so turgid if the film had been stylish, but it isn't. And in several places it appears decidedly amateur: There's a scene where a table is laid with a 60's jump-cut technique, but they haven't made sure that the person actually laying the table is completely out of frame between the cuts. Consequently, you can see things changing at the edge of frame, when you're really supposed to be watching things changing at the centre of frame. A good rule in movie-making is: If you don't understand how to do a technique then try something else.

The real riddle is why anyone thought it would be a good idea to make this movie in the first place.

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