Guy Ritchie's Doing Sherlock Holmes?! What Does Warner Bros Know About ROCKNROLLA That We Donít?!
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: June 4, 2008 | Publication: Ain't It Cool News | Author: PROFESSOR MARCUS
Publication/Article Link:Ain't It Cool News
Hey, everyone. ĒMoriartyĒ here.
Warner Bros loveses them some Guy Ritchie right now.
I saw REVOLVER, so forgive me if Iím confused. I like Ritchie, certainly, but that film suggested a filmmaker who was so far off the reservation that he wasnít even interested in making films for audiences anymore. I think heís got great visual ideas, and he can build a sequence in terms of mood and rhythm, and the actual filmmaking craft in REVOLVER is lush and sumptuous. But the film overall is a car wreck and a train crash and a bus explosion all rolled up into one. If I were a studio looking at that film, Iíd be at a loss in terms of knowing what to do with him. Can this filmmaker be trusted?
Well, theyíve seen ROCKNROLLA by now, and we havenít, and all of a sudden, Warner Bros is in the Guy Ritchie business in a big way. When I interviewed Joel Silver for the SPEED RACER release, he talked to me about how SGT. ROCK was set to finally find its way in front of the camera with Ritchie directing, the latest name in a long line of people who took their shot at that one. And Silver told me point blank that ROCKNROLLA works, that he thinks itís awesome, and that it is a turning point for Ritchie as a director.
Could it be true? I hope so. I like the idea of his SGT. ROCK, and I am equally intrigued at him replacing Neil Marshall as the guy who wants to write and direct this reinvention of Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century franchise-hungry modern cinema landscape... no small task, indeed.
We got this review in recently from a guy that you should take as just one small part in what Iíve personally heard as a rising tide of good buzz on Ritchieís return to the full-blown gangster romp. I think Gerard Butlerís having a no-shit movie star moment these days, and heís doing it well. And the rest of the cast is equally interesting. I would love it if this turns out to be as good as this guy says...:
Saw this movie, thought you should know. Use it or lose it.
And glad you're feeling good, big guy ...
One of the really annoying things about the success of this site and others like it, and the studios subsequent attempts to co-opt them all, is the undoubted preponderance of plants. There was that review here a while back of Repo, the Paris Hilton execrescence, blatantly dictated by someone on the production team. Thatís not so bad, everyone spotted the authorís leafiness, because no way is that film not a crock of shit. But where it gets annoying is when your girlfriend gets you in to see a movie thatís not released for a bit, a movie you know that geeks and many more are going to dig with a big old spade, and while you want to tell everyone about it, you feel the need to temper your gibbering praise because of the inevitable talkback suspicion that will ensue.
But fuck it, I saw ROCKNROLLA, and it kicked MIGHTY ARSE. And while it doesnít have the shock of the new, I reckon this is the best of Guy Ritchieís good movies. And that barís pretty damn high. I saw it in London, where itís set, although the London of the film is totally Ritchiefied. Weíre back in Lock Stock and Snatch territory (thank fuck), where everyone has a name like One-Two or Mumbles, and speaks a deranged mockney argot. Come to think of it, they did that in Revolver too, but here we donít have to deal with Jason Statham shouting at his own ego in a lift for minutes that felt like days.
Anyway, from the moment the opening credits not so much kick in as explode onto the screen Ė up there with Seven, Catch Me If You Can, and The Incredibles, in recent years Ė itís clear Ritchie means business. He must know what dogs his last two movies were, he must know he wonít get too many more chances, but despite that, thereís a bravura confidence to this I wasnít expecting. In the first five minutes we meet about a thousand characters, and if it wasnít for Mark Strongís splendidly laconic voiceover youíd be utterly lost. Even with it youíre struggling, but who cares? The cameraís flying around, the performances are mostly spot-on, the music kills.
The plot is basically about upstart oligarch Russians taking over London properties from the old-school likes of Lenny Cole, played by the reliably superb Tom Wilkinson. Heís having an extraordinary run right now, and this is a nice addition to the canon. His consigliere is the cool-as-all-shit Mark Strong, and the pair of them rock together. Lenny is owed a serious amount of money Ė I couldnít tell you how much, not having understood the mockney slang Ė by a bunch of would-be gangsters, led by Gerard Butlerís One-Two, and itís their attempts to get that money, inadvertently sabotaging Lennyís deals with the Russian mogul every time, that form the central spine of the movie.
But like I said, there are any number of other spin-off storylines and characters, including various junkies, thieves, gangsters, pop stars, music promoters (the slightly underused Ludacris and Jeremy Piven), and a scheming accountant, played with drawling deadpan sexiness by Thandie Newton. While not even Guy Ritchieís agent would argue that he can write good parts for women Ė anyone remember a female character in Lock Stock? Or Snatch? And then thereís Swept Away, which makes you glad there werenít any women in the others Ė at least here the single note he gives Newton to play is a good one, and she seems to be having a fine old time.
As do all the others. Gerard Butler finds a nice line in self-mockery; he and Newton have a spectacularly uncool dancing scene together that drew howls of laughter from the audience. Heís kind of a dork, and all the cooler for it. Also in his crew are Idris Elba and Tom Hardy, whose romantic yearnings form the basis for some of the best jokes in the movie.
But the standout performance, the one that really makes you feel youíre watching a new star beginning to shine, is that of Toby Kebbell. He made a good impression in the magnificent Dead Manís Shoes, and I remember him in Control, but not a lot else. In fact, nothing else. But here, as the dissolute rock star Johnny Quid, he just fucking blazes. Women will want to do him (my girlfriend was stuck to her seat), men will want to be him; basically, the world is his to own.
Or it would be, if Ritchie didnít have it in his pocket already. Reannouncing himself as a superb director both of set-pieces Ė a STUNNING chase scene where Butler is pursued by two Russian heavies who absolutely will not stop Ė and pure comedy Ė the aforementioned dance scene, the shortest sex scene in the world, and many more - Ritchie is on top form here. And as a writer, heís having fun again. Thereís no Kabbalahian subtext to distract, annoy or confuse. Thereís just a cool story to tell, and a party to be had telling it.
Itís not a perfect film. A couple of the performances donít really work, and occasionally it loses itself in needless exposition, as if it doesnít realise what a good time weíre having in our ignorance. But basically it fucking pegs along, looking great and sounding even better, until the cool and genuinely surprising twist in the tail. And then, in typically confident style, the film ends by announcing that a sequel will be coming soon, which is a) good news and b) a flat-out ballsy move considering that this one hasnít even opened yet. But judging from the audience response throughout, and the applause at the end, the sequel will be coming, and Iíll see you there.
Let the mistrust begin. For a few months. Then youíll see it, and know I was right.