A Law unto Himself
Alfie (Jude Law) left Britain and headed to Manhattan, not to make his fortune but because he had heard that the best looking women live in Manhattan. And working as a free and easy limo driver Alfie is never a few hours away from his next one night stand be it with a client's wife in the back of the limo or heading to see Julie (Marisa Tomei) his sort of girlfriend. Beyond the countless women he sleeps with his only real friends are fellow driver Marlon (Omar Epps) and his girlfriend Lonette (Nia Long). But Alfie has to face up to some facts when he has a brief affair with Lonette and has to deal with the consequences of what he has done, well for a whole at least.
38 years after Michael Caine played the cockney charmer in "Alfie" we have Jude Law giving us his version of the charmer, but an updated one which not only shifts the story across the water but with a focus made for a new generation. As such let me say that this version of "Alfie" is not for those who watched Michael Caine's version when it came out and this is not for those who enjoyed the original because it had plenty of depth which you could analyse and debate. Yes there is some depth to this but no where near as much as in the original as this is played much more for laughs, some might say "shits and giggles" when it comes to a womaniser.
As such what you get is Jude Law playing it as the shallow womanizer who doesn't really think about anyone else's feelings as he hops into bed with one attractive woman or another. But a series of events forces him to face up to his chosen way of life when not only does Julie have enough of his lack of commitment but the consequences of sleeping with his friend's girlfriend has potential for major complication and immediate erectile dysfunction. The thing is that whilst there is more it plays out in a commercial way with the focus on giggles and as such that soul searching side never feels real or really takes precedence.
What is very clear is that the producers of this version of "Alfie" have put a lot of reliance on star power to make this version worker, surrounding Jude Law with a lot of very attractive women from Jan Krakowski, Marisa Tomei and Nia Long to Susan Sarandon and it certainly adds to the commercial appeal. It is the same with Jude Law as watching him playing an incorrigible charmer kind of works but only in a shallow, lad about town type of way.
What this all boils down to is that this 2004 version of "Alfie" is fun entertainment, more of a romantic comedy for the 21st century which basically means that the depth of the original doesn't play as big of a part as it did in the Michael Caine version. It doesn't make it a bad movie; it is in fact surprisingly enjoyable but always ends up playing second fiddle to the original.