RocknRolla review

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: November 6, 2008 | Publication: | Author: Editor
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Guy Richieís RocknRolla is a lot like the overpriced bag of M & Mís I consumed whilst in the cinema. On the outside, M & Mís are visually appealing; boasting a vast array of colours and an elegant little ďmĒ imprinted on every piece to add a hint of class. The chocolates are marketed to suggest that each colour has a distinct character, be it witty Red or moronic Yellow, and the words ďnewĒ are plastered on the bag every time a different size or colour is introduced into the family. However, no matter what the colour or size, as soon as a handful of M & Mís pass beneath your vision and into your mouth, you are quickly reminded that they all taste exactly the same. The same goes for Richieís latest British gangster flick. Once you look past the abundance of colourful characters and beyond Richieís distinct visual style, you soon come to realise that youíre being fed M & Mís of a different kind Ė a Muddled & Monotonous film that fails to distinguish itself from Richieís previous, far more accomplished, mob films of the 90ís.

Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), a ruthless London mobster who claims to own half the city, forces two small time gang members, nicknamed One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba), into his debt through an elaborate Real Estate scam. At the same time, a Russian billionaire with the intent of building a new football stadium in London strikes a deal with Lenny, asking him to use his many connections to get instant approval for the project. However, the delivery of Lennyís Ä7 million payment becomes the target of a small time gang - consisting of who else but One Two and his partner desperately seeking a way to pay off the money they owe.

Battered and Bruised: Symbolic of Richieís emergence from his recent cinematic attempts?

The filmís spaceless title alone reveals alot about the minutes of RocknRolla; thereís not a moment of pause. From the word ďgoĒ, the film hurriedly introduces you to the films overabundance of characters through a rapid-fire voice over. During this opening sequence, Richie makes it clear that he doesnít want you to breathe, blink or look away from the screen. Itís good advice too, if you hope to be able to comprehend the rather listless plot that follows. The reason why the plot is made so unnecessarily complex is because it tries to include more characters than Richie knows what to do with. Many feel tacked on; such as the title character, a druggie Rock Star, who suddenly becomes involved in the story at the half way mark for some inexplicable reason. The entire cast do a commendable job considering, most of whom avoid turning in archetypal performances that are usually inherit with a Guy Richie gangster film. However, with such a plethora of characters and sub-plots fighting for screen time, they are barely given a chance to engage with the audience. As a result, the film comes across as an overlong mish-mash of scarcely linked sub-plots that do little but mask the primary plot, whatever that might be.

Donít be fooled: RocknRolla is all style, no substance.

As muddled as RocknRolla may be, one must commend Richieís visual style. The heart pounding intro, consisting of a unique and rapid camera movements and a thumping soundtrack, would probably get the residents of a morgue excited. However, once the opening montage fades out and the dialogue heavy scenes take over, Richieís film is anything but RockníÖitís actually quite a drag. Aside from some genuinely witty scenes of dialogue, most of the film suffers greatly from sporadic pacing. With such a high-octane opening montage setting the scene for a film that exists within a genre noted for its mature content, thereís a bizarre absence of action and excitment in the RocknRolla. Blink and youíll miss the films singular sex scene, which completely arrives out of left field as though itís a part of a romantic sub-plot tacked on at the last minute. Even those strong willed individuals who do retain interest throughout the film in a hope that loose ends are tied off neatly, will no doubt be disappointed by the anti-climatic payoff that results.


Returning to the motif of this review, RocknRolla is a lot like a bag of M and Mís; visually interesting to begin with, but ultimatley a bland and repetitive experience. Itís a true testament to the saying that style is nothing without substance. Despite some solid performances and unique cinematography, the film is plagued by poor pacing and an over abundance of characters and subplots. Itís certainly better than what Richie has offered up recently, but youíd be hard pressed to find anything thatís not.

2 stars of 5