Movie Review: RocknRolla (2008) (blog)
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: February 9, 2009 | Publication: spling.co.za | Author: Editor
RocknRolla is classic Guy Ritchie. After a lapse in filmic enterprise, the hotshot British director has made a stylised return to the days of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Ritchie’s trademark subject matter and comedic crime escapade oozes cool. Gerard Butler (300) and Tom Wilkinson ensure that RocknRolla has all the juice it needs, and Thandie Newton, Mark Strong and Jeremy Piven drive this point home. Underground crime syndicate, rich Russian property developers, junkies and mercenaries light the stage for a cataclysmic showdown. The Ritchie framework may be slightly formulaic, but the thick British accents, stylised cinematography and mix of comedy/violence push RocknRolla into the realm of Ritchie’s earlier works.
RocknRolla is propelled by underhand dealings and Ritchie creates a world comparable with Tarantino’s epics. There’s an unpredictable air to the script as the audience gets a charge of gritty action, where anything goes. The misfires, the failed plans and the misdirection of life enter Ritchie’s RocknRolla, and this is where the blade’s sharpest. Ritchie dangles the audience on the knife’s edge with pent-up action sequences and pushes the balancing act to the limits with a dash of dark comedy. His heady mix of crime, drugs, alcohol, women and guns is down-and-dirty. The subject matter may be in the gutter, but Ritchie dresses the sleaze up with top performances and super cool shots. He’s returned to his old hunting ground, and while it’s tried-and-tested, it’s much-loved.
Ritchie sets the story by introducing his array of criminal characters. It’s slow to start, but launches headlong into the dust cloud of mix ups and meddling as things heat up. The performances are true, although Butler plays his star presence down like Mark Wahlberg. He’s supported by the talented Tom Wilkinson as Lenny, who fits into Ritchie’s world like a leather glove. Thandie Newton is sexier than ever as Stella, and makes for dynamic chemistry. Mark Strong and Jeremy Piven put a foot in, but their characters could have done with some more screen time or eccentricity. RocknRolla is a return to form for Guy Ritchie, and audiences can already look forward to the much-anticipated sequel. RocknRolla isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but will impress fans of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Quentin Tarantino. It’s entertaining, viciously funny and drop-dead cool.
The bottom line: Rock ‘n Roll.
Rating: 7 of 10