DVD Review: RocknRolla - Two Disc Digital Copy Special Edition

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: February 2, 2009 | Publication: Elasticpop.com | Author: Rebecca Wright
Publication/Article Link:http://www.elasticpop.com/2009/02/dvd-review-rocknrolla---two-di.htm

In all honesty, considering the title, I had no idea what to think of RocknRolla. I thought maybe it was some sort of gangsta-rap flick. The director, writer producer, Guy Ritchie (Two Smoking Barrels) was married to Madonna, so it seemed like a pretty good guess. The film had come and gone from theaters in my area in a blink, so I didn't know anything about it. After seeing RocknRolla, I hope the DVD release gives the film a much wider audience. If you like your mobster pictures with a twist of humor, RocknRolla succeeds rather well.

We know this film is going to have elements of humor right from the start. The film begins with almost entirely black and white cartoon graphics that accompany the opening credits. From there, we are introduced to two small-time hoods One Two (Gerald Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) who have figured out a get- rich-quick scheme. The idea is to buy a dilapidated, old building, get the London planning commission to rezone it, and then sell it at a huge profit. Of course, they need money to get their venture started (somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million) and they find a benefactor in the person of London's biggest criminal, Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). Lenny is an old school mobster who has much of the city's government in his pocket-- city councilors, judges, and policemen--he can get virtually anything he wants done. Problems arise when one of the city councilors takes the hoods cash but doesn't come through with the rezoning. Unfortunately for One Two and Mumbles, Lenny still expects them to come up with the $2 million.

Without telling the two hoods, Lenny makes a phone call to the city councilor and because he has the power to blackmail anyone, he tells the guy he "must" rezone the building or else. The city councilor takes care of it in a flash but Lenny doesn't tell One Two or Mumbles about it. Instead, he keeps putting the pressure on them to get his money back. Lenny wants everyone to fear him, so he has to keep all the hoods in line.

Despite Lenny's power, he does have problems of his own. A Russian billionaire, Uri (Karel Roden), is trying to horn in on Lenny's power base. He's buying up large pieces of property in and around London and in turn, becoming quite influential. As it turns out, Uri needs Lenny's help to get a planning commission permit for a new building. Lenny agrees to help him out for seven million euros. Uri decides he doesn't want to take the seven million out of his bank account; instead, he wants to hide the withdrawal so nobody can later accuse him of bribing city officials. He asks his accountant Stella Baxter (Thandie Newton), to secure the money through "creative" channels.

Stella decides she wants to have some fun. When she does secure the money, she hires two old friends, One Two and Mumbles to steal the dough and split it with her. Since One Two and Mumbles owe two million to Lenny, they jump at the chance, not realizing they're stealing money that is really going to Lenny. Got it?

However, Lenny's right hand man Miles Archy (Mark Strong), doesn't trust Uri and warns Lenny not to do business with him. Lenny pays no mind and remains more concerned with making sure everybody understands he's the boss in town. If that's not enough, as a show of faith, the Russian had given Lenny an expensive painting, which somebody later stole from his office. Now the Russian's pretty angry, having lost his painting and his money. That all happens in the first twenty minutes or so of the movie! Things get even crazier from there.

There's also rock star Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), who may or may not be dead; a huge mobster named "Tank" (Nonso Anozie), who says his moniker derives from his being a "think tank"; two music promoters, Roman (Jeremy Piven) and Mickey (Chris Bridges), who are totally clueless; One Two's good friend, Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy), a lady-killer with a secret everyone but One Two knows; and a whole crew of underworld types to which One Two, Mumbles, and Handsome Bob belong, a crew known collectively as "The Wild Bunch."

To say that the plot of RocknRolla is complex would be understatement. However, the film works because Ritchie had the good sense to tell the story with a healthy dose of humor. Given the characters presented, you expect the story to be twisted and all over the place. The story is so goofy, it quickly becomes enjoyable.

RocknRolla is presented in anamorphic widescreen, which reproduces the digitally shot film's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 probably as well as standard definition can do. Ritchie uses a muted, color-drained palette, favoring light browns and grays, about as close as he can come to doing the whole thing in black-and-white graphic-novel style, as his opening titles suggested. While the screen is relatively clean, it also suggests a small degree of grittiness that goes beyond standard film grain.

The audio is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, which provides excellent dynamics and widespread surround for its rock background music. At times, you may find the soundtrack slightly overbearing.

There is nothing particularly special about the extras. An audio commentary features Guy Ritchie and co-star Mark Strong, who seem to enjoy the film so much they sometimes forget to comment on it. Then there is an eight-minute featurette, "Guy's Town," on the contemporary London setting, and a deleted scene, "Would You Put the Cigarette Out?"

The film also contains English, French, and Spanish spoken languages; French and Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired. The set also includes a bonus digital copy disc of the film, compatible with iTunes and Windows Media devices.