“Were Playing A Game...”
“Obey The Rules.”
“The Typical Remake”
“A Must See !!! This Is A Thinking-mans Thriller!!”
“The Witty Banter Is Probably Not Enough To Keep The Audiences Glued To Their Seats, Yet The Actors Are Wonderful In Their Roles.”
It's like Deathtrap crossed with Cribs as staged by Stanley Kubrick.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
In the remake of Sleuth, what was once insignificant is now insufferable.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
A Dead Film Walking, a zombie of a film, a shuffling Frankenstein's monster of a film, leaking electricity from its badly-fitting neck bolts, tragically whimpering at the pointless agony of its own brief existence.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Caine and Law are in fine form bantering cleverly in this entertaining cat-and-mouse game, thanks to the inspired dialogue of Harold Pinter.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Little more than a sleek, stylish stunt.
Ann Hornaday - Washington Post
Sleuth gradually becomes soulless and no fun, and what's the point of that?
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
So what's it all about? Got me.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
I think the movie works best if you know the original and have a taste for goofy revisionism -- say, Hamlet as a giant Hawaiian luau with the final duel on surfboards, or Paul Anka doing a finger-snapping "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
In Sleuth what he [Kenneth Branagh] celebrates is perplexing, ominous, insinuating material in the hands of two skilled actors.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Branagh, whose screen career with Shakespeare began on a high note with Henry V and has gone steadily downhill since, does a nice job keeping a stagebound piece relatively cinematic without resorting to the usual opening-up techniques.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Director Kenneth Branagh has mercifully pared the action down to 88 minutes (the first movie dragged on for 138), but the final act... still seems to go on forever.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
This would have been a memorable night at the theater. Too bad they filmed it.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
It sounds so promising. It plays so disappointing.
Tom Long - Detroit News
A grand exercise in watching two marvelous actors rip into some crackling dialogue. It's the thespian equivalent of jousting, and it's fascinating to watch.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
This is a radically different Sleuth, one that feels at times like Pinter self-parody.
Robert Koehler - Variety
Just when things should be getting exciting and complex, they become repetitive and predictable. Subtext becomes hint becomes statement becomes declaration. For once, Pinter is a little too easy to understand.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
It doesnt work, and the reasons why are no mystery, no mystery at all.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
Closed-circuit cameras and electronic gadgets are so much in abundance, bathed in the coldest of blue lights, it's as if Branagh chose to film his Sleuth in a Best Buy warehouse.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
Director Kenneth Branagh clearly is having fun navigating Tim Harvey's slick set design, but eventually the characters' deadly competitiveness becomes tedious.
Sean Means - Film.com
A wickedly entertaining four-man tour de force, Sleuth transforms Anthony Shaffer's Tony-winning, rather than rehashing the fine 1972 movie version.
- Globe and Mail
It has a certain edge and daring, or more to the point it pretends to. That goes some distance toward concealing that Sleuth is a horrible mismatch of writer and material.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
It's an interesting failure -- a film that works more successfully as a study of technique and writing than as a motion picture.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
If you consider what the exalted quartet of Branagh, Pinter, Caine and Law might have done with the project, and what they did to it, Sleuth has to be the worst prestige movie of the year.
Richard Corliss - TIME Magazine
Language this lethal has all but disappeared from the movies, and it's an unmitigated pleasure to observe Caine and Law attack it with such ferocity. Sleuth is nasty fun.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
- Digital Spy
It requires a light touch; I admire Branagh a great deal, but not for his light touch.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Idly plotted then tempered by a blunt ending. All of a sudden the viewer is left pondering 'eh?' as Pinter apparently run out of room on his pad.
Chris Laverty - Clothes on Film
Mark Bazer - Boston Phoenix
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Pinter's pauses, and the dour air of so much of the interplay, just don't fit on a story that's this slight.
Alonso Duralde - MSNBC
Once the homosexual subtext is brought to the surface, everything seems to be a joke. Are they gay, kidding, or just considering?
Brian Holcomb - PopMatters
Fans of the original should stay away.
David Stratton - At the Movies (Australia)
The script includes a verbal motif that reminds us of what binds the film's four central talents together: 'I want to show you something.' [Blu-Ray review]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
- Sydney Morning Herald
What this Sleuth lacks in enthusiasm it makes up in character-driven menace.
David Cornelius - DVDTalk.com
Despite Branagh's every attempt to capitalise on the intimacy of the cinematic medium with (intrusive) close-ups, the direction is heavy handed; the result being a dramatic, but emotionally cold experience
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Goofy art house tendencies (including an ill-thought dalliance with homo-eroticism) trigger a few giggles, yet the clever, crisply-acted power struggle seizes your attention
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
Garth Franklin - Dark Horizons
What Pinter and Branagh present is a much more wicked, cold, disturbing film that is even more confined than the original.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Jennie Kermode - Eye for Film
Seems to me that the Kenneth Branagh-Harold Pinter Sleuth is a pretty good movie. It just isn't a very good Sleuth, exactly.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By the time the film ends on a flat note, it is long past the point of failing to effectively showcase a meeting of minds between two great actors.
Matt Kelemen - Las Vegas CityLife
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and scripted by no less than Harold Pinter, the wicked charm of Sleuth Mk1 has been stripped away to leave a nasty, dispiriting and strangely cold psychological thriller.
- Daily Mirror [UK]
No amount of visual flourish, sadly, can compensate for the woeful lack of chemistry between the leads or arch dialogue that sounds more like a Pinter parody than the man himself.
Neil Smith - BBC
Message to Jude: You have more chance of convincingly concealing that receding hairline than becoming the new Michael Caine. Stop trying to be something you are not - a charismatic actor.
- Sun Online
Whether you like the film probably depends on whether you can treat it all as seriously as Pinter and Branagh. If you can't, this short, brackish piece will not work at all, even if you don't regard it as a piece of piss.
Derek Malcolm - This is London
A bold, initially fascinating but ultimately misguided attempt to 'Pinter-ize' an old-fashioned puzzle. Great mysteries leave their audience marveling 'how did they do that?' Sleuth 2007 leaves you scratching your head, wondering why they bothered.
Leigh Singer - Film4
When Sylvester Stallone's Get Carter is no longer the worst remake of a Michael Caine movie, you have to ask yourself: what's it all about?
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
This is the kind of intimate physicality that Pinter pumps into Shaffer's script. But it will take a better director than Branagh to tease it into the real world.
James Christopher - Times [UK]
Caine and Law rustle up a spicy chemistry which sustains a sizzle for an hour or so. But the second half panders to Pinter's self-indulgence, unravelling Branagh's high-tensile head-fuck as a hollow skirmish.
Andy Lowe - Total Film
Perhaps the year's most pointless remake (and that's saying something), Sleuth is something of a disappointment, thanks to poor direction, dodgy acting and a laughably bad script.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Kenneth Branagh's direction, its self-consciously skewed angles and surveillance-cam cutaways highlighting his weakness for the misplaced flourish, is more of a hindrance than a help.
Trevor Johnston - Time Out
Sloppy execution of a reasonable concept. A wasted opportunity.
Neon Kelly - Little White Lies
Minus a couple of brisk, black laughs, this hollow remake botches the twists and sucks the fun right out of its feisty source.
Simon Crook - Empire Magazine
Sleuth is no longer a fun whodunnit; it's been transformed into a baffling whatthehellweretheythinking?
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
A film that's right up there with Crash, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), and the Kennedy White House for sheer wasted potential and misguided ambition.
Josh Rosenblatt - Austin Chronicle
The movie never achieves anything like a life of its own.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
A tedious bit of shenanigans and sleight of hand lifelessly realized by director Kenneth Branagh.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
An utter redundancy...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
While the cagey old pro does manage to hold our interest throughout, Law badly flounders in the sort of vehicle that seems tailor-made for him.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Constantly upstaging the rest of the cast, and reminding us over and over that we are watching a stogy, old fashioned stage play, Branagh's loopy lens is indeed the best part of Sleuth. Everything else is just plain pointless.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
The back-and-forth goes on and on, increasingly impenetrable. Talk. Poke. Provoke. Repeat.
Jason Heck - Kansas City Star
Alas, it just doesn't work. It could have, but it doesn't.
David N. Butterworth - rec.arts.movies.reviews
This film wants only to entertain, and other talents have gathered with Pinter to help.
Stanley Kauffmann - New Republic
Stanley Kauffmann - The New Republic
A film that gives a twist to the old chestnut, but one that shatters what was best about it in the first place.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
Devotees of the original may be appalled to see it changed in any way, but on its own terms it's pretty entertaining.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
We're left with two suitably hammy performances by Caine and Law, who do not forget they are actors playing actors, and a production design that must have kept the lighting people doing some ingenious plotting of their own.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
This was never going to be a masterpiece, but it didn't have to be nearly so frustrating.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
While [writer] Pinter contributes some venom-spitting new dialogue, he also deviates wildly from the original story in the third act -- which would be fine, if the deviations weren't less compelling and more abrupt than Shaffer's original ideas.
M.E. Russell - Oregonian
There's lots to like in Sleuth's battle of wits, which occurs when an actor (Jude Law) having an affair with a married woman visits her husband, a writer (Michael Caine), and asks him to grant her a divorce.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Caine and Law are terrific together, verbally circling each other like panthers ready to pounce.
Jean Lowerison - San Diego Metropolitan
Branagh's Sleuth delivers a preening surface that's glossy and coldly attractive but we don't care a whit about the characters or what happens to them.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
Those who say they wouldn't mind watching Michael Caine and Jude Law recite the phone book may well have their patience tested by Sleuth.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
Sleuth remains an effective display of acting, with enough twists and turns to satisfy the newcomers and avoid insulting the faithful.
Brian Orndorf - eFilmCritic.com
This might have been OK for cable, but as a night out at the movies, it feels like a bit of a cheat.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Although the first half is much better than the second, Sleuth is intense, wordy, wordly and thought-provoking overall. It may not appeal to adolescent boys. Imagine that.
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
Anyone with 138 minutes to spare can have a fuller, more satisfying entertainment experience in every way by hunting up the original.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Intense cat-and-mouse thriller is for adults only.
S. Jhoanna Robledo - Common Sense Media
The acting alone carries the film.
Jonathan W. Hickman - Entertainment Insiders
Ironically it's Branagh's relentless and painfully obvious attempts to keep the action visually 'interesting' that makes the proceedings come off even more stagy.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
And, amid the movie's many technologies of watching and acting, its "gotcha" tricks are surprisingly unsophisticated.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
This remake isn't as radical as last week's Heartbreak Kid redo. But it's similarly unsatisfying.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
...like watching a pair of one-man shows face off against each other.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Shaffer, who adapted the 1972 version himself, surely would be less than thrilled by the post-modern, minimalist interpretation given to his best-known work, and understandably so.
Ruthe Stein - San Francisco Chronicle
Sleuth finds Branagh and Pinter at their absolute worst.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
Even though it held no real surprises for me, I was still able to enjoy it simply for the spectacle of watching Caine and Law tearing into each other in the most nastily erudite manner possible.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
A semi-satisfying game, set and match.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
Tedious, pretentious, and ludicrous.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
Entertains more than it should, a sure sign that the real culprit is the fine talent assembled.
Doris Toumarkine - Film Journal International
In spite of its strengths for the first two-thirds, you're better off tracking down the original Sleuth than this one.
Russ Breimeier - Christianity Today
Both stars definitely deliver and the movie directed by Kenneth Branagh is handsome enough, but for some reason it just doesn't connect the dots.
Pete Hammond - Maxim
Dave White - Movies.com
Too updated and tries too hard.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
Kenneth Branagh is not a director with a light touch, or an aversion to self-importance, and the movie's visuals are too painfully obvious.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Caine and Law go at it like tigers, but in the end they're just chasing their own tails.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
While the cons do finally outweigh the pros... oh what marvelous pros they are.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
One of the more entertaining films of the season, a tight, efficient thriller with two actors, a director, and a writer firing on all creative cylinders
Brian Tallerico - UGO
Purely as an exercise in stylistic face-lifting, Sleuth is fascinating.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
ambitious if not fatally amateurish
Chris Cabin - Filmcritic.com
It's hard to fault a 35th anniversary retelling for not being able to fool us, but you would think in that time they'd be able to find a way to make that second-act twist work on film.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
Leaving aside two brilliant 1963 film adaptations of [Pinter's] best work, The Caretaker and The Servant, the terse opacity of the dialogue that served his early plays so astringently has never translated well onto the big screen.
Ella Taylor - L.A. Weekly
Despite interesting cinematography, this remake it fails because Michael Caine is no Laurence Olivier and Jude Law is no Michael Caine.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
A delicious truffle filled with poison, with a sleek beauty that makes Sleuth all the more dangerous.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
...a picture whose modest length still manages to outlast our interest and then test our patience.
Kurt Loder - MTV
Kenneth Branagh's direction imitates De Palma's multi-angled voyeurism, but the trite visual tricks interrupt the clipped language and tense interaction that are British theater's domain.
Armond White - New York Press
Directed by Branagh as a stylish, nasty tug of war. But it's also murky and overwrought.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
It's tempting to call the new Sleuth a soulless remake, but that would imply that the original had a soul.
Fernando F. Croce - Slant Magazine
Michael Caine and Jude Law give inspired performances that make the most of Pinter's brilliant and pithy dialogue.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Sleuth is worth the price of admission just to watch the old pro Caine put Law through his paces. Law may have youth and beauty on his side, but Caine has sheer charisma and a towering talent.
Pam Grady - Reel.com
Sleuth is a rare film where violence is a welcome relief, concluding the madness that puts the audience out of its misery as the credits thankfully roll.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
If you can get in the mood for a talky tete-a-tete, then Sleuth will be right up your lover's lane.
Staci Layne Wilson - Buzzine Magazine
...little more than an actor's showcase.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Fans of the original, or even people who saw the original and said, 'Meh,' will likely be angered by this update --- especially the end, or more directly, the lack thereof.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
Sleuth succeeds as a gripping, character-driven thriller.
Stax - IGN Movies
You're in an ether between a stage play's suspension of disbelief and film realism.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
A stylish matching of verbal wit made less interesting as language sits out the physical action.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
- Screen International
Sleuth isn't incendiary or ground-breaking; it's a chance to see two very good actors (who also happen to be movie stars) work with very good material under the direction of a very good director.
James Rocchi - Cinematical
Branagh's stylish but vacuous Sleuth, is curioisity item, an unnecessary remake of the 1972 film that has no reason to exist other than Jude Law's obsession with playing Michael Caine's vintage roles.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
A delicious little devil of a movie in its own right.
Boyd van Hoeij - european-films.net
The real culprit, dear Watson, is playwright Harold Pinter, contracted here for a baroque rewrite of Shaffer's original dialogue. The result. Is one. Of unbearable artifice. Throughout. The entire film. Some puzzles just give you a headache.
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out New York