The first time I watched this, I'm not embarrassed to say, I just didn't get it at all. Being a huge fan of the Anthony Shaffer/Joseph L. Mankiewicz version, all I noticed -- through my tears, and between sighs -- were Harold Pinter's drastic alterations and the frosty overall tone. "Surely there's enough misery in the world," I told my cat, "without necessitating the surgical removal of every ounce of pleasure from two hours of delightfully witty entertainment." The cat concurred: "CCTV and homoerotic overtones are no substitute for good, old-fashioned belly laughs. Meow!"
It was only when I watched it a second time that I realised there are more good things than bad on offer, and I began to appreciate Pinter's novel tinkering with the character relationships. For instance, Andrew Wyke's (Michael Caine's) adulterous spouse is now an old man's trophy wife, rather than a toy boy's meal ticket. More interesting still, Pinter turns the love-triangle completely on its head, leaving the woman out in the cold, for a time at least.
The use of CCTV to internalise the outside world is ingenious, but it creates a glaring problem that the script fails to address: prospective burglar Milo Tindle (Jude Law) doesn't think to ask Wyke about the ubiquitous cameras, and strangely but conveniently, Detective Inspector Black never asks to see any surveillance footage of Tindle's visit. The 1972 "Sleuth" was a fascinating summit meeting of two very different acting schools; the 2007 version is more David versus Goliath than a clash of titans, and Jude Law definitely forgot to bring his slingshot. Seemingly aware that he is being acted off the screen, Law overplays to the hilt. Caine, however, is brilliant.