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Popcorn Panel: RockNRolla

Category: RocknRolla Reviews
Article Date: October 17, 2008 | Publication: The Ampersand | Author: Brad Frenette

Posted by: stagewomanjen

Quentin Tarantino has said the sign of a good film is that it makes you want to go home, eat some pie and talk about it. With that in mind, our Popcorn Panel features film buffs feuding in this space each week.

This week’s panel:
• Alison Broverman is a freelance writer who would like to slap Guy Ritchie in the face for this movie.
• Brad Frenette is the online editor for Arts & Life. Sometimes he mumbles like Brad Pitt in Snatch.
• Ben Kaplan is a feature writer for the Arts & Life section. A reader at ICM recently called his first screenplay “beyond awful,” so excuse him if his criticisms come off overly harsh.

This week’s film RocknRolla.

RocknRolla could have used a lot more slapping. Such a big deal was made of Archy’s (Mark Strong) signature slaps that I was hoping for them to be a regular occurrence, especially since I found almost every character onscreen insufferable. Is this what Guy Ritchie does? (This is the first I’ve seen of his films.) Some nonsensical spoutings from a junkie or two, a
couple of angry Russians, a car chase (that was pretty rad, actually) and the most pointless sex scene of all time? Boo. At least Gerard Butler is easy on the eyes.

I know this is going to risk my being ostracized by a million 300 fans, but I think Jason Statham does Ritchie with much more funny, violent flair. Thandie Newton, who I love, seemed miscast, maybe too old to be playing the Megan Fox role, though I did applaud the dance scene — the Newton-Butler samba was my favourite romp on the dance floor since Pulp Fiction.

This is pretty much exactly what Guy Ritchie does, albeit to differing results. RocknRolla is like the third part in a stylistic trilogy, with Lock, Stock, Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. The plots move the same way, the characters all come from the same places (physically and motivationally) and chase some Holy Grail.
Speaking of the sex scene, that’s another Ritchie device — using a quick edit to deliver a visual punchline. As for the casting, Ritchie, like Tarantino, is consistently bang on.

The Johnny Quid character made me really angry. I just hated that guy: so smug and obnoxious, spouting his pseudo-philosophical nonsense. I will not be seeing The Real RocknRolla (if that’s even a real movie) unless Ritchie can guarantee me 500% more slapping. Especially of Johnny Quid.

What’s with you and all this slapping? I thought Quid was the best thing in the movie. Matter of fact, more of him and less Gerard Butler and the gang might’ve kept me more entertained — every time he came onscreen it felt like a taut slap in the face.

Like Brad Pitt's Mickey O’Neil in Snatch, Johnny Quid did what Butler’s One-Two was meant to: deliver the knockout punch. As for the mention of a sequel at the end of the movie, that’s a bold move. I’d much prefer to see Ritchie do Snatch 2: Mickey Goes to New York. But since neither of these are coming anytime soon, it’ll be interesting to see what Ritchie does when he’s forced to switch up the format with the new Sherlock Holmes film.

I like Guy Ritchie, but this movie does not bode well for Sherlock Holmes. Maybe with a bigger budget he’ll get someone powerful enough to admit to his face when a scene doesn’t work.

I think Ritchie needs to get over himself: He’s all style and no substance, which I guess is how a lot of his fans like it. It’s a shame, though, because he’s got such a great cast to work with: Tom Wilkinson classes up everything he does, and for all my complaints, I did genuinely enjoy the aptly named Mark Strong. There were a few other amusing moments, too, such as the Russian thugs comparing scars; the dance scene was pretty cute, too.
But they were few and far between. Overall, I just found the movie tedious and overly slick to no worthwhile end. And what even happened to Thandie Newton and the Russian billionaire? It’s like Ritchie completely forgot about them.

There was definitely some tightening up to do on this one. I think Ritchie really relied on the MacGuffin of the painting to be the plot driver on this one. Anyone think that might be a nod to the briefcase in Pulp Fiction? This whole film, more than any of his others, seemed to nod to Tarantino. While it was clearly in Ritchie’s style, maybe it was a statement that the “new Tarantino” was back after a couple of critically panned films.

I think Ritchie was smarting from the break-up with his wife. Matter of fact, maybe it was this movie that finally convinced her to walk out the door. I know I would.


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