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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

SLEUTH (Kenneth Branagh, 2007) **

4/10
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta
27 April 2008

With the passage of time, it has become fashionable in film to not just remake a popular movie or a celebrated literary work but also to re-envisage it. And so it is, therefore, that this new version of Anthony Shaffer’s famous two-hander is thoroughly revamped (by screenwriter Harold Pinter and director Kenneth Branagh, no less) for the technological age we live in, thus having the character of crime novelist Andrew Wyke now inhabiting not an old-fashioned country château but a veritably impregnable fortress. When the original film version of SLEUTH appeared in 1972, four-letter words were just being ‘introduced’ onto the silver screen but, judging by Pinter’s excessive use of expletives in his adaptation, one might be inclined to think that the famous writer has only just discovered them for himself! Another unwarranted addition is the utterly tasteless gay overtones which come to the fore in the finale and almost succeed in wrecking the whole movie.

That the new version of SLEUTH is a misfire is unmistakable but that it is not a complete failure is mostly due to Michael Caine’s thespian skills and Kenneth Branagh’s visual flair (more on that later on). Again, in the past there have been various instances where one of the principals in the original movie version is given a cameo in the remake – Victor Mature in SAMSON AND DELILAH (1984; TV), Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam in CAPE FEAR (1991), Charlton Heston in PLANET OF THE APES (2001), etc. – but here Michael Caine takes over Laurence Olivier’s part. Still, this is not even so novel a concept as it might at first appear as Caine had already portrayed basically the same jealous schemer role in Ira Levin/Sidney Lumet’s inferior variant on SLEUTH itself, DEATHTRAP (1982)! On the other hand, Jude Law once again steps inside Caine’s old shoes – having previously embodied the latter’s signature role of ALFIE (1966) in a 2004 remake, a fact which surely must not have escaped the film-makers or casting directors. I’m not particularly fond of ALFIE myself so I haven’t bothered to watch the remake, but I adore the original SLEUTH and I must say that Law’s characterization in this newer version is an annoyingly overbaked one that fails to do justice to Caine’s interpretation in both movies.

A clear indication of how poorly the Harold Pinter-Kenneth Branagh film fares against the Anthony Shaffer-Joseph L. Mankiewicz one is a simple, numerical one: the latter is a hefty 139-minutes long and virtually whizzes by while the former’s 86 minutes feel like three solid hours! The first third is quite decent, actually, but after the highly ineffective ‘Inspector Doppler’ segment, the film sinks fast and not even the constantly mobile camera-work, the ever-changing color palettes and the futuristic nature of Caine’s interior design are able to keep tedium at bay for very long.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

You don't need to have seen the original to dislike this film

Author: satchelpage13 from United States
2 September 2013

Yes, this 2007 film is a distinct departure from the original. Some plot twists (many of the best) disappear, and a new twist or two (rather trite) are inserted seemingly solely for the sake of change and shock value. The vide surveillance aspect seems of no purpose other than to remind of modern times (as if this fact has plot value). Even had the changes benefited the plot, Caine is no Olivier and Branagh is no Mankiewicz. Caine's performance and this film fall flat and bore. Law is over the top and stagey, and Caine simply lacks all energy. Most lines fall flat - as if this were an early read-through between the two and background scenery were added late. The original was far superior. This film is predictable, one note and disappointing.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Major disappointment

5/10
Author: marty436 from United States
14 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When this showed up today on "On Demand", I suggested to my wife that we watch it. She had never seen the original and had no idea what it was about and I thought it would be fun to see her response to the films conclusion! Although initially intrigued by the minimalism of the sets in the new film versus the almost kitsch overload of the original, I think ultimately the film is less effective - the sets in the original added another dimension that at least in a movie adaptation made the remake less interesting and somewhat tedious. But I can understand the desire to not just do a remake, but attempt something where the house underscores the psychology of Wyke in a totally different way than the original, and perhaps resonate better with today's audience.

However as soon as Detective Doppler makes his appearance, my wife says - 'Hey isn't that Jude Law?' - BUMMER. Now I know many people probably recognized Michael Caine as Doppler in the original and that the verbal combat between the actors is a large part of the point - but it certainly spoiled it for me that she so readily recognized Jude Law. Now she can't even watch the original with the same innocence and amazement (assuming she would be as handily taken in by the film as I was).

So bottom line - if you have seen this movie or the original and someone ask you for a recommendation that has never seen it - please suggest strongly that they watch the original first!

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Do Not Watch !!!!!!!!

1/10
Author: becca hood from United Kingdom
17 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

i personally found this movie terrible!!!! its that bad that it made me register on IMDb so that i can tell all of you not to waste you time watching it!!

i thought it was rubbish acting that made me cringe (and i love Jude law to bits)! it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense and has no point. why don't you just kill each other to begin with instead of faffing around.

both my mother and i towards the end of the movie thought the ending was going to be a joke and that it was just 2 gay guys having a laugh on the weekend lol !!!!!

anyhoo highly not recommended unless you want to die of boredom !!!! much luv xoxo

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Really Bad

3/10
Author: safinahmed from Portugal
16 February 2008

This is a long movie (the running time is not to big, but if you start watching the movie you will feel that it's a really long movie) The whole premise of the movie it's just stupid. Who can believe that a relationship of this could ever exist? And even if it did, that both parts will behave the way they do in the movie.

Dividing the movie in three parts (those who have seen it will know which parts I am talking about), I would say the first part has terrible acting, and you almost sleep watching so much stupidity together.

The second part brings us a better Jude Law and the most exciting part of the movie where I made the big mistake of thinking that from that point on the movie would get any better.

Then you get to the third part and everything collapses again, with more terrible acting and stupid scripting.

In a sentence I would say bad script, terrible acting (except for Jude Law in the second part of the movie) and a very predictable story (you can always guess what will happen next).

Don't watch this movie, even if it's on TV and you have only one channel.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Good. Grief.

9/10
Author: FiveHundredFlicks from United Kingdom
26 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wanted to review Sleuth as simply "delicious" but, apparently, I need to elaborate. Caine v Law ? Caine ? With Jude Law ? I wouldn't have banked on it being a success but it works. And how. I can't elaborate without hinting at plot spoilers, the twists, the turns. Suffice to say: Watch this movie. If you don't get it first time round, watch it again. The movie starts with an ambiguous premise. You're drawn in to the plot with unusual camera angles, Interesting architecture and an impressive array of innovative domestic accessories. So far, so what ? As you prepare for the usual "Beginning, Muddle and The End", Caine & Law go deep. The plot thickens. There are some very nicely shot scenes and some well delivered lines in this movie. You'll either love it or hate it, either way, watch it.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Inside Out

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
2 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The original was a theatrical conceit, a tight little knot tied between two characters writing a play for each other. Its much like "Deathtrap," which also had Caine, who starred in the original. There he was opposite Larry Olivier. Now Olivier is not a good screen actor, and he butchers Shakespeare, but the original "Sleuth" depended on the ability to step out of the cinematic frame and into a larger self-referential theatrical one. It worked there.

This works better, so very much better. Lumet and Mankiewicz are directors of the first order. But this material is a natural for a Pinter-Branaugh collaboration. Its because it is a play written competitively by the characters. And because though it starts in a way that is easy to follow, in the last ten minutes, it escalates to levels of ambiguity and ambition that enter the zone of dark logic both men prefer.

The first bits are pretty much from the original, excepting the amazing staging. This, we learn, is a house designed by the absent wife. It's full of anticipatory spaces, as if it were designed as a set. Panels reveal other spaces. The elevator is open so that we can see into it. The entire place is covered by cameras so we can see everything.

(These cameras by the way behave not as surveillance cameras, but cameras that have human curiosity.)

Walls change color every few seconds based on lights that would be impossible in a real space, one with a ceiling.

So even in the beginning where the game is simple, she has agency. If you only know the original, you will believe that it is merely the two men at war, a war of writing each other into humiliating stories. The Pinter magic, of course is that he escapes this.

The game with Pinter has always been centered on noir, the mechanics of the viewer manipulating the action. In those last few minutes, he introduces the possibility — only the possibility — that an agent external to these has been manipulating them both. Its quite delicious.

But even without that, the amazing choices that Branaugh makes are exquisitely entertaining. His stagecraft amplifies the theatrical nature of the thing (sets, lights, static camera, formal poses) at the same time that he undermines it by appearing to have the acting be "natural" as if it appeared with no script. I'm not quite sure that Jude Law gets it though. He seems to be an ordinary actor here, not one that folds into the several layers Pinter inhabits.

But Caine does get it. Its good to finally have him back after his virtual vacation of what, 30 years?

This is fantastic stuff if you like movies, and how they are put together.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.

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21 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

an interesting thriller

7/10
Author: LayerCake from United States
17 October 2007

Kenneth Branagh is known for great Laurence Olivier remakes. His last remake was 1991's Hamlet. 16 years later Branagh is adapting one of Olivier's most famous films, Sleuth. He proves with his effective directing and camera techniques that he is still the greatest director for a remake. The film only has two actors, the legendary Michael Caine as he reverses his role this time around. In this film, the supposed Italian actor Milo Tindle is played by Jude Law. The film starts off with the camera cutting through security cameras throughout Wyke's (Caine) countryside estate. When Tindle arrives you find out that he is the lover to Wyke's wife. He simply asks for him to agree to a divorce, but Wyke has much more planned than that. The film then spends the rest of its time playing out elaborate mind games of deceit and trickery that will keep you guessing until the last second.

Usually, I think it'd be hard to watch just two actors for almost 90min. To pull it off, you'd have to have two incredibly strong actors to pull it off, and they got the perfect people for it. Michael Caine brings Olivier's role a fresher sense of darkness and questionable attributes. While Jude Law easily proves that he is one of his generations top actors. For playing Caine's former performance, Law is sufficient enough to keep the film going. During the second act of the film, Law will surprise you with a stunning performance.

Branagh's direction is somewhat courageous. He uses new camera techniques that haven't been seen before. Sleuth in some way is a dream for a cameraman. Branagh pulls off such interesting angles that it gives you different perspectives of what's going on in each scene. Whether your only line of sight is protruding through a set mini-blinds, it almost makes you feel like a peeping tom listening in on the mens conversation.

The script written by Harold Pinter is filled with eloquent dialog that will entrance you. The character's flip flop from good to bad constantly, so the dialog keeps you updated on who is winning the game. It also gives you a sense that there is a third character in the film. The house. It's incredibly high tech and is the reason for the same of the character's choices. Pinter also uses some of the designs in the house to help move the story along.

However though, towards the end of the second act it seems that the two characters start to get too caught up in their own games and the film does get a bit contrived. It lost my interest a little at the end as well. The film ends abruptly but leaves you hanging. After talking about everything, my conclusion is that Sleuth is definitely one of the greatest remakes of all time.

I give it an 8 out of 10

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Nothing special about this one

5/10
Author: The Couchpotatoes from Belgium
3 April 2016

I have to admit that the first part of the movie I was curious where this was going to. I still thought it would get us somewhere. But a little bit over in the second part I realized it was going nowhere and that I was losing my time watching this movie. It lost my attention and I even got bored. Not that the actors are bad, I actually do like Michael Cain. Jude Law a little bit lesser but he's still okay. But in Sleuth there is nothing that get you excited or intrigued like you should be in a mystery thriller. It's like watching a bad play in the theater. You can't wait until it's over. What I also found very annoying was the music. That boring piano/violin music that actually fits this movie, because they are both boring.

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So, we've seen the play, when does the movie start?

4/10
Author: grantss from Sydney, Australia
11 February 2016

So, we've seen the play, when does the movie start?

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Michael Caine and Jude Law, from a play by Harold Pinter: sounds like a good formula, doesn't it? Unfortunately nobody told Messrs Caine, Law and Branagh that they weren't doing a play! The whole movie feels like a play, and has this emptiness and pretentiousness to go with it.

The plot was OK, but not watertight. The suspense seemed lacking though. All the twists made you less surprised the next time something which should have been thrilling happened. Made the end an anti- climax.

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