Though they're ostensibly dueling over Maggie, it's the interplay between the two men that takes center stage, resulting in a a twisted, all-consuming, and violent battle for supremacy. It's physical, mental, and emotional, draining and exhilarating at the same time. Winner takes all -- though what "all" means is left up for debate. Caine and Law are a perfect match -- no surprise, given how ably Law stepped into Caine's shoes in 2005's Alfie. Caine taps a deep reservoir of rage not seen in his films in ages; Law, on the other hand, buries his pretty-boy image -- Milo is rough and desperate and, though handsome to behold, unafraid to be ugly (in one scene, he transforms "wit" into a loaded, almost shameful, word).
But just like Alfie, Sleuth is a little too slick. Andrew's estate is more cold than grand, and Branagh, by lingering too fondly on the high-tech edge of it all, threatens to snuff the rawness out of his movie. (He is, admittedly, excellent at setting tone; menace pervades the film throughout.) The first half-hour delights in the high-tech stuff -- the indoor elevator, the fancy lighting, the security cameras, the computer that controls it all -- so much that it almost seems like an ad for a modern-day "smart house." To heighten the face-off between its two main characters, Sleuth needed just a little more grit.