A slick update of the role that made Michael Caine a star, Alfie is a smart career move for Jude Law. Armed with an uncanny resemblance to the young Sir Michael, a piercing 'come hither' stare and bags of cheeky South London charm, Law anchors this remake of the classic Brit flick as it shifts the action from swinging 60s London to contemporary Manhattan. Yet the Sex And The City makeover can't disguise its faint-hearted take on the frank misogyny that made the original so controversial.
Cruising the streets of Manhattan as a limo driver, Alfie's living proof that all those single girl whines about "No-Man-hattan" are just an exaggeration. Silver-tongued banter, a label-laden wardrobe (alphabetical arranged from Gucci to Prada), and a tight six-pack let Alfie charm any woman into her birthday suit in 60 seconds flat (the eye-candy gals include Sienna Miller, Marisa Tomei, and an Ab-Fab turn from Susan Sarandon). But after suffering a bout of the dreaded droop, he starts to wonder: "What's it all about?"
"LIKE ITS HERO, IT LOOKS GOOD BUT CAN'T COMMIT"
Remaking such a dated and 60s-specific movie was always going to be something of a fool's errand. How could the nasty misogyny and joyless bed hopping of the original survive in our post-AIDS, post-feminism world? Lacking the courage to take on such big themes, this plays it safe, reducing the original's shock value to nothingness.
Law does his best with what he's given - making the most of his trademark stare in the straight-to-camera monologues - but not even his perfect, cocksure performance can make up for the lack of danger as the film papers over anything even vaguely controversial (AIDS epidemic? What AIDS epidemic?). Equally frustratingly, it transforms Alfie from outright cad to merely a silly boy with trust problems. Like its hero, the film looks good but can't commit, talks the talk but has nothing to say.