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I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Guy Ritchie's mockney
gangster films. I don't know what it is. I know that they're not very
profound and have nothing to say, I know that they're a pure fantasy
vision of British crime and I know that if you've seen Lock Stock,
you've pretty much seen them all. And yet, as Ritchie returns for a
third iteration of the only formula with which he's tasted success , I
still find myself walking out of the cinema massively entertained.
RocknRolla does absolutely nothing new. A quick list of things it shares with Lock Stock and Snatch would read thus: fast paced, witty dialogue; complex, interwoven plot threads; central McGuffin driving the mayhem (#1 antique shotguns, #2 huge diamond, #3 a lucky painting); smart, rapid editing; a mountain of Cockney crime stereotypes. Even things such as hard-as-nails Russian henchmen return. It completes the upward curve of scale in Ritchie's crime films: from a rigged card game to a rigged boxing circuit to rigged property development. The crime lords get larger in stature, the sums of money owed have more zeros on the end and the capers required to resolve the situation more grand, but it's still the same concept.
You'd think this was a list of criticisms, and if you found Snatch wearingly familiar you shouldn't need it spelling out that this film won't impress you. Looking for originality? Look elsewhere. RocknRolla may be pushing the formula a little bit, but if you accept that it's still enormous fun. Ritchie's directing is as proficient as ever, it moves at a merry old pace and the plot just about stays on the rails. The characters are endearing and there's plenty of laughs to be had. Other than its dearth of invention, the only real flaw with the film lies in the opening fifteen minutes, where Ritchie sets up the plot strands which will then unravel. Whereas previous films did this in a smooth, unforced way, here Ritchie lathers it with a liberal helping of voice-over narration so there's absolutely no confusion possible as to who is who and what they're after, which on many occasions extends to pointing out the bleeding obvious. Show don't tell- it's the first rule in the book Ritchie! It may be getting to the point where RocknRolla must go down as a guilty pleasure, but guilty pleasures are often the most fulfilling kind. And so it is here.
In a business as enormously subjective as the film industry, it would
seem near impossible to attempt to remain individual and innovative,
continually raising the bar, without the occasional stumble.
Writer/director Guy Ritchie, who at first garnered countless approval
for his vicious, hyper-stylized tales of dirty deeds in the British
underground, had found the critical tides turning in recent years after
the succession of universally panned Swept Away to widely baffling
Revolver, begging the question as to whether Ritchie's cinematic genius
had been limited to his initial films. However, fans of the
unconventional filmmaker will be enthralled to hear that his latest
project, RocknRolla proves a confident return to form, a snappy,
stylish piece of work bristling with energy and acerbic wit - in short,
Returning to his defining genre, Ritchie crafts yet another convoluted myriad of intersecting story lines focusing on greed, deception, double-crossing and plenty of stupidity in the seedy underbelly of England. With viewers trusted to be familiar with his unique style, Ritchie uses his familiar story template to worm in social commentary amidst his trademark edge and humour, satirising the increasingly developed state of London and the enormous demand for real estate and location. But this is not the ordinary, romanticized London, as Ritchie's cinematic eye appears determined to capture every last dank, filthy gutter, every ounce of crime and corruption in a fashion akin to the least flattering cinematic depictions of New York. And yet, amidst the filth and edgy comedy, the occasional moment of raw humanity, flawed as it may be emerges from the fray of unanimously unsympathetic characters, whether it be the vulnerability of rocker Johnny Quid shuddering and rocking back and forth on a drug trip or the witty interplay between 'The Wild Bunch', a trio of hapless thieves. For a film so cynically detached, RocknRolla sure can hit the emotional gut-punch buttons for brief but unsettlingly crucial moments.
However, in the midst of his caustic reflection on his home town, Ritchie has mercifully left his sense of uproarious fun intact. After a relatively slow start, serving mostly to set up the convoluted array of characters and plot points (the central Maguffin this time being a 'lucky' Russian painting which goes missing) the film takes off at the frenzied pace those familiar with Ritchie's work would expect. Plunging into a fray of hilarious coincidences and situational comedy (watch for a priceless slow dance scene and one of the most hysterical sex scenes in many a year), double crosses, intimidation rants, philosophical monologues and the time worn Ritchie tradition of indestructible Russian hit men, it becomes clear that no matter how many similarities it may bear to past work, the delight of seeing a dynamic talent back on the top of his game cannot be understated. While the hyper-kinetic editing and camera-work and bold music cues of Snatch have been toned down and the casual violence is more removed, the cinematic flavour is unmistakable - Ritchie is back, and just as bombastically entertaining as ever.
As usual, Ritchie's cast rise to the occasion of matching the brilliance of their script and director. Gerard Butler brings an endearing charm to tough talking goofball thug One-Two, inevitably raising laughs whenever on screen and anchoring the film as one of the few likable characters. Tom Wilkinson takes on the role of resident British mobster with considerable aplomb, spitting out his lines with a vindictive joy and proving easily more than adequate on the intimidation front. Thandie Newton evokes an alluring mysterious air as a devious accountant playing each side of the conflict against each other, exuding a subtle quirkiness in her execution of the traditional femme fatale figure. Mark Strong delivers harried menace and perfect comic deadpan as Wilkinson's right hand man, crafting another memorable Ritchie reference with the "Archie slap", and Idris Elba and Tom Hardy are fittingly hilarious as One-Two's bumbling fellow hard men Mumbles and Handsome Bob. Finally, Toby Kebbell eerily essays the most commanding character on screen as allegedly deceased rocker Johnny Quid. A narcissistic, painfully vulnerable, haphazardly philosophical and cheekily insulting pile of flaws and potent observations, Quid is as classic as any of Ritchie's more beloved characters, and Kebbell's off-kilter performance rivets the viewer's attention - whether hilarious or tragic, he is always invariably impossible to ignore and far too interesting to discount.
While the occasional cry of rehashing story elements from past successes may be raised, Ritchie's return to form is too supremely entertaining to dwindle under such complaints, as the formula proves to have just enough shelf life along with countless inspired tweaks to remain miles ahead of any stylistic impersonators. For any finding the cinema's fare too dull or uninspired, fear not - a genuine talent has re-emerged, and RocknRolla proves just the antidote to the hackneyed mainstream offshoots which slunk up in his absence. The prospect of the announced two sequels is mouth watering indeed - if anything should prove indicative of the film's quality, it is that.
While seeing the dark knight a trailer for a new guy ritchie film came
I wasn't particularly swayed too much by this trailer but considering the summer period was almost over and we film lovers now have to survive the cheap horror winter season, Rocknrolla seemed like a nice surprise.
So i saw it last night.
And, to the tell the truth, i absolutely loved it! Obviously apart from guy ritchies excellent direction it had some absolutely fantastic dialouge with some pin sharp conversations and trademark British humour.
The story revolves around several characters, each do something that affects another character within the story. Characters are The Wild Bunch with Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton the accountant, Tom Wilkinson the gangster.
I could say more but there are a lot.
The film to start i found was rather complicated but as time went on i got used to all the characters and they're relationships etc etc.
It's filled with some great top notch sequences but my favourite and the crowds favourite was "The Invincible Russians" Overall this is a great film and breaks the dead lock of cheesy cheap films we get around this time of year.
go see it now!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a new gang of Russian mobsters in London planning to create a
real estate goldmine lead by Uri(Karl Roden). But they need the help of
Lenny(Wilkinson) to get permission so he lends him his "lucky painting"
this in turn disappears bringing Stella the accountant(Newton) and the
Wild Bunch(Elba,Butler,Hardy) into the Fray. Amongst all this Is
Rockstar Johnny Quid and his Agents(Kebbell,Piven,Bridges). Get ready
for another multi stranded cockney Ritchie film.
First of all, so you know, I have been long anticipating this film (I mean who wouldn't just for the cast alone?) so didn't go in with low expectations, they were high and this film still managed to surpass them. Lets start with the aforementioned cast... they are all absolutely fantastic but they are aided by beautifully written characters. Gerard Butler(One Two) and Idris Elba(Mumbles) have more chemistry on screen than most Hollywood romcom leading couples. They snap and crack off each other like they've done it for years. In fact the entire "Wild Bunch" as they are known in the film provide some of its best moments, from a visceral heist scene with some unstoppable Russian heavies(which oozes style) to a hilarious running sub-plot about Bob's(Tom hardy) sexual orientation. Matt King also provides a great turn as the Wild Bunch's in house drug dealer Cookie, he also turns in one of the movies best scenes, an eerie narration on heroine addiction. Wilkinson is firing on all cylinders in a role that could have just been his Carmine Falcone with a cockney accent but manages to be much more as well as pretty scary. But it is Mark Strong who comes up trumps in this storyline, his portrayal of Archie the right hand man is probably the most rounded character in the film, full of humour and wit and with an undeniable likability he steals much of the scenes he appears in. And now on to Toby Kebbell as junkie Rockstar Johnny Quid, this is a role that if the academy were a little less narrow-minded they would consider supporting actor nod. He is scum, but his character is such that he is witty and somewhat of a poet/philosopher, fantastically written and Kebbell plays it brilliant. You are never sure what hes going to do next, I guarantee he will take you by surprise.
And now onto the man of the moment, Ritchie. There was a lot of scepticism about this film considering how badly his past two films did critically and commercially. But what is clear from this is that instead of going the safe root and doing a film that will please all he has once again done his own thing the way he wanted to do it and the result is a fantastic piece of film-making.
I really hope RocknRolla makes the money it deserves and gets a wider release in America, it is a film that needs to be seen. Its funny, clever, visually stunning and is a perfect example of a man doing things his own way and not succumbing to the pressures of the media. Well done Ritchie, well done cast, Im up for the Real RocknRolla and when you see it so will you!
I just saw this film and I obviously loved it. I had been a huge fan of Guy Richie's "Snatch" and "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." Then he married Madonna and made a few bum movies, especially "Revolver." Well rest easy, Guy Richie Fans, the man who made the two great movies I listed above is back and funnier, more intense, and a better writer/director than ever. The first ten or twenty minutes of the movie are a little confusing, but as long as you follow the characters and events (which isn't hard to do since they're fantastic and well acted) you'll understand and enjoy "RocknRolla". I'll also add that the soundtrack is great.
After some failures in his career as a director, Guy Ritchie is back with a fast paced, frenetic movie. A film about a Russian mobster orchestrates a crooked land deal, millions of dollars are up for grabs, and all of London?s criminal underworld wants in on the action. Everyone from a dangerous crime lord to a sexy accountant, a corrupt politician and down-on-their-luck petty thieves conspire, collude and collide with one another in an effort to get rich quick. The story is interesting and the plot is very well developed. Its a film with lots of action and adventure, it has also a very good amount of black humor, characteristic from Ritchie's movies, and full of twists and an unexpected ending.The direction from Ritchie is excellent, the first hour might be a little slow but from the second hour till the end the movie takes a very fast rhythm and the fast forwards and slow motions increases the intensity of the movie. The cast is amazing, Gerard Butler gives a formidable performance, Thandie Newton also very good, Tom Wilkinson flawless as always and the secondary roles from Toby Kebbell (Johnny Quid), Idris Elba (Mumbles) and Mark Strong (Archie) gave the movie a very good support. In conclusion, RocknRolla is a entertaining movie you will enjoy and that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
This is a typical Guy Ritchie film. With a wide range of characters and
some very powerful performances to random shots making you wonder where
the story is headed but just in time to converge in one final showdown
leaving you with just word.. WOW!! I can't help but compare it to
SNATCH..as they are similar in so many ways...but SNATCH was much more
intense, funny and a better script.
Some very fine performances from Gerard Butler from 300, Tom Wilkinson from Michael Clayton but what really surprised me was outstanding performance by Toby Kebbell. His subtle dialogue and crazy laughter really spells horror and magic at the same time. The story takes you through the world of mafia and spins all dramatic sequences with blood, deceit and loads of humor. The scene where Gerard and his gang escape from the two Russian militants... that scene made me laugh like crazy.
I just loved this movie and i can't wait to see the sequel.
RocknRolla seems to be the beginning of the resurrection of Guy
Ritchie's career. Not to anyone's surprise he does this with what he
has been so potent with throughout his career; a British gangster film.
If you've had any experience with Ritchie movies you know exactly what
you're getting into here, a comedic thriller. This of course may seem
problematic, in Ritchie's case it is not.
The writing and dialog is fast paced and quite witty and entertaining to watch. The movie as a whole maybe be a bit of a head scratcher here and there but the pay off is good and the idea is a bit of a parody of itself which is what makes this film so fun.
What Ritchie accomplishes though, in the same way he has with his past successful productions is putting together an extremely diverse and yet correlating cast. This starts with the lead man in Gerard Butler whose notoriety has steadily risen largely through his performances of comical caricatures (not an insult). With RocknRolla Butler seems to have found a role perfect for his appeal and charm he brings to the screen. This is largely because of a witty script and great, fun performances all around.
Then of course there is Mark Strong who until this year was largely a total unknown, at least in the American mainstream. While Gerard Butler may have found a genre he is most strongly suited for, Mark Strong could certainly use this along with Body of Lies to launch to the very least a respectable acting career. His posture, range and ability to change tone and style subtly not only between films but within them is something that should be and surely will be recognized.
Guy Ritchie's career has run red hot and ice cold over the yrs. Guy's
unique European gangster movies know how to have fun. Really cool
violence w/ really cool lines.
Guy Ritchie busted out w/ cult gangster faves Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Then Madonna drained his awesome storytelling w/ Swept Away. Then came weak Revolver. Madonna wrecked one of my fave directors.
I put off seeing RocknRolla and I regret it. Guy Ritchie is back! Every BLEEPING thing I love about his movies came back in a wave. Unforgettable characters, bad a** story, cool lines, and plenty of action to boot. He did get help from two BLEEPING great actors. Mark Strong "Archy" and Toby Kebbell "Johnny Quid"
If you gave up on Guy Ritchie come back. RocknRolla will win you over.
Throughout his career, director Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Lock Stock and two
Smokin' Barrels) has slowly gathered a cult-like following, ensuring
that his movies, be they good or bad, will always earn a few dollars
from loyal fans. With his 2006 release of Revolver, many of his avid
followers found new 'stylistic' directors to drool over, the movie
itself receiving mostly negative reviews as a majority of moviegoers
claimed it to be 'all style and no substance'. His latest release,
RocknRolla, shows Ritchie returning to his roots of gangster oriented,
moronic villain centered, hit-man featuring fun. It's a welcome return.
RocknRolla is an ensemble piece, centering on many, many characters while remaining surprisingly capable of not focusing on any one member of the never-ending cast. Gerard Butler (300) plays a good-hearted crook for hire by the name of One-Two, a member in a group of 5 blood-to-bones friends, each of which doubles as a partner in crime. The main focus in the gangster-related circle of characters is Lenny Cole, a ruthless, old fashioned thug brought to life by Oscar-nominated Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton).
The movie truly begins 15 minutes or so after the rather unique opening credits, which in itself foreshadows Ritchie's stylistic thematic which circulates throughout the movie. The eclectically charged plot follows Lenny Cole and his cohorts as they meet and greet Uri, a seemingly reasonable Russian mobster, as the two speak real-estate business. Cole, a self-proclaimed "King of London", runs each and every aspect of London, and agrees to allow the Russians their building for a small sum of 7 million Euros. Agreeing, Uri offers Lenny his favourite painting as a token of appreciation, a hopeful symbol that all will go well.
From this point on, viewers are treated to a mishmash of confusing twists, an infinite pallet of characters, and some of the most intelligent writing to hit Hollywood in years. The afore-mentioned painting is stolen from Cole, and a search ensues throughout the entire movie, eventually leading to Johnny Quid (Jamie Campbell), the lead singer of The Quidlickers, and step-son to none other than Lenny himself. Quid, also known as "The Rocknrolla", represents a solid contrast to his devilish step-father. Providing monologue after brilliant monologue, Quid becomes a character of classic cool, embodying olden day suave with modern day style, a true to time Rocknrolla.
As with every one of Ritchie's gifts to the silver screen, the subtle yet slick script throws the few negative aspects of the movie to the backburner, leaving only pure gold to shimmer and shine. With a never ending stream of British mannerisms combined with over-seas terminology, North American viewers are faced with a rather tricky dilemma: Sit through a movie that may require a small amount of effort to comprehend due to it's foreign tendencies, or instead rely on Dicaprio and Mr. Crowe to deliver yet another bland, meaningless CIA centered action movie in the form of now premiering Body Of Lies. Unfortunately for the masses that truly enjoy a movie with an intelligent script, box office numbers generally speak poorly for Guy Ritchie's films on our side of the pond, his movies usually making no more than a few hundred thousand dollars, only to become cult hits once released on DVD.
Viewers may be shocked to see Gerard Butler (best known for his overly masculine performance as King Leonidas in 300) hidden amongst an amazing yet unknown cast, with each actor holding their own and providing more than authentic performances. It is a rare yet beautiful sight to behold, a cast full of actors that have not yet been granted the "fame" or spotlight, yet manage to upstage a majority of the actors that we are presented on a day to day basis. It is beyond sad, the least can be said, to see Chris Bridges A.K.A. Ludicrous (2 Fast 2 Furious) and Jeremey Pivens (Smokin' Aces) failing miserably in their attempt to act in brief yet important cameo performances, also singled out as the only two American actors in the film, their "talent" shadowed and overcast by the nobodies surrounding them.
To those readers out there who are contemplating seeing this not-quite-so-common piece of theatre in the form of British Cinema, it is best for you to know there are many worse things you can do. Director Guy Ritchie weaves an intricate quilt the likes of which hasn't been since his debut to theatres, managing to create a truly witty film from nothing more than a missing painting. Definitely a must see.
5 out of 5 stars
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