Off the Shelf…’RocknRolla’

Our friend Ruth at FlixChatter recently did a post about the opening sequence to Rocknrolla and after reading it, I thought “man I want to watch that again!”. Also, I just love that intro song by Black Strobe…to me, that whole bit just works. I really enjoyed RocknRolla in the theater and it is such a treat on DVD/Blu-Ray. Sure it’s not quite Snatch part II that fans were expecting, but I think it turned out well. All I can say about this film is that “Guy is back!!”…and now that Madonna is gone, I think we’ll be getting more quality Ritchie films in the near future.

RocknRolla was one very fun ride and one that kind of all of a sudden appeared after the long Ritchie absence. When I first saw this in the theaters, I’d never heard of Mark Strong before, and to this day, every time I watch this, he impresses me more and more. Hell I don’t think there’s a movie he’s in where he doesn’t just shine (except maybe Babylon A.D.). In Rocknrolla, he delivers a very unassuming but supremely entertaining role as Archy. He stole the movie in my opinion…well, he did narrate the whole thing so I guess that makes him the main character? Guy’s movies are funny in that there is no real “good guy”. The way I see it, he writes it so you like everyone and cheer for the guy who comes out at the end of the film with the fewest scrapes and dings (although you’ll probably end up quoting the bad guy even more).

The rest of the cast was very talented and diversified, (the chemistry of “The Wild Bunch” was equal to, say, The Ghostbusters meets Swingers, if you ask me).  No type-casts here, each character was written with enough depth and style to make everyone on-screen interesting. This movie plays out like a perfect mix of Snatch and Layer Cake (which Go, See Talk very highly recommends). This film alone is reason enough to cheer, but (again coming back to Strong) considering the awesomeness of Mark Strong (a man way too talented to not be the lead in every one of his film), he kicks this movie up 10 notches and in my opinion makes the movie. But for every great bit of casting, there is also poor casting. In my opinion, there was a slight mis-cast with both Ludacris and Jeremey Piven – their roles just seemed forced and unnecessary. However, they didn’t have that much screen time so it ended up being tolerable. Guy’s films usually have “a whole lot of characters” and maybe he just needed 2 more to fill out his screenplay.

Also, I thought the Tom Wilkinson role was on odd fit which, to me, played like an aloof version of Michael Gambon’s character in Layer Cake. In the end I ended up liking his performance and (another Ritchie film reference coming) I think if ‘Bricktop’ from Snatch had a cousin, this would be him. It was probably better he didn’t play it as straight as he did in Batman Begins because in this film, typical of Ritchie’s style, everyone had to be serious and laughable at the same time. One actor I pay more and more attention to is Tom Hardy. Sure he played a larger part than he did in Layer Cake but even in his small roles he finds ways to shine. Such a talented individual (if you don’t believe me, check out Bronson where he put on a tour de force like I’d rarely seen) and he need to be in leading roles if you ask me. Damn that guy is going to go places…Oh, wait, he’s already on his way:)

Either way, this movie is great but you can tell Guy was just trying to get his legs back under him (considering the success of Sherlock Holmes, it seems he’s to have got his stride back). It did feel a little flat in the middle and the finale was not as satisfying as Lock, Stock or Snatch, but overall this movie gets a passing grade. This film felt did embody the feel of his early work and hints of Snatch there, but not enough to be called a retread. This cast/story contributed to a fine job of keeping pace, and making you feel like you got involved in all the hijinx. I was surprised/pleased to see they are leaving it open for a sequel (sort of a nod to the way they did it in the old 007  films) but as the movie didn’t do too well theatrically, it looks like that will never happen…pity.

Guy is a master craftsman of films that have, as I put it, “everyone working for everyone else but they don’t know it“. The good news is that even though RocknRolla will be considered sub par when compared to his other work, this movie was, in a way, a lead in to Sherlock Holmes. After the success of that fine film, I think it’s safe to say he won’t be disappearing again anytime soon! This is just the fan-boy part of me talking but I think he should do a James Bond film or maybe something with Bryan Singer…now that would be cool!!

P.S. Piggybacking on the Easter Egg post I wrote a few weeks ago, watch a little bit further into the credits at the end of the movie to see more of ‘One Two‘ and ‘Handsome Bob’sdate…awkward but pretty funny.

G-S-T Ruling – 3.5/5

G-S-T Seal of Approval – GRANTED

Comments

  1. mcarteratthemovies says

    I saw your “Garden State” write-up on Mike’s blog but it isn’t on your site — don’t forget to post it so people can comment! Since it’s not here and I’m bursting to comment, I’ll press on. 🙂

    Your review/write-up was spot on. You did one of my favorite indie movies proud! I think “Garden State” is misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t take the time to notice that the movie’s built on the balance between Portman’s energy and Braff’s more low-key vibe. His performance has been criticized as “wooden” or “boring,” but that’s the point! He has to come out of his shell bit by bit or else the transformation won’t be believable.

    I also liked the point you made about how post-“Garden State” movies sometimes had collections of Characters and no interesting or poignant plot. Characters without context are simply annoying; however, the characters (note the lowercase “c”) in “Garden State” broke down my wall and got in my heart. 🙂

    • Thanks Mer! It was a bit of a struggle trying to find ways that this movie’s success doomed others following in its wake thereafter, but I had fun writing it. Maybe we ought to repost these comments in the right place now that I’ve actually posted the Garden State write-up. Savvy?

    • Dreher Bear (...Where The Buffalo Roam) says

      I really enjoyed RocknRolla. Sure it’s not Guy Ritchie’s best, but definitely not the worst. I recently picked it up at Wal-mart in the 5 dollar bin and it’s still enjoyable after multiple viewings. Hopefully he makes a sequel to it (as he promised).

      • Thanks for the mention, Marc. High five again for digging this one. It’s definitely a fun movie, a bit confusing at times but the performances make up for that. I think this is more of a Mark Strong movie than GB’s, but since he’s more famous he’s got top billing. Y’know how I feel for Butler, yet Archie’s my fave character here.

        Dan, unfortunately this didn’t make enough money for Ritchie to make a sequel. I think he intended it to be a trilogy and it would’ve been a good one. Alas, I don’t think we’ll see it.

        • Somethings are better to end at one…but, to me, this is not one of them. I am actually quite sad that we’ll not see the continued success of the Wild Bunch. Sure the film felt a little thin (and like you said, some of it a bit confusing) but while a trilogy does sound too ambitious, then just a sequel. It’s got to work better than Shanghai Knights!

          Oh yeah, and Mark Strong for President:)