RocknRolla (2008) movie review
According to reports Guy Ritchie doesn't care what critics think and is more interested in the public's reaction of his movies. If I thought he stood at a cinema in the U.K near where he lives and asks "did you like my movie?" as people leave the auditorium, then I would accept it. Unfortunately, I imagine he doesn't do that and merely bases the "public response" on box-office receipts. Well, we all know that some movies don't quite work that way. Take Spider-Man 3 for example. It was panned by the critics and public alike. However its box-office receipts were very impressive. People went to the see the film (as they are going to do with RocknRolla) based on past performances.
Guy Ritchie (for most of us) has had setbacks with regards to pleasing the audience. Despite hitting the big time with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, he didn't please as wider an audience he had hoped with (the ever confusing) Revolver and Swept Away (did anyone see that flick?)
So the question we need to ask is if Ritchie has returned to form with his latest movie RocknRolla. Well, clearly the man can't spell but I'm sure that he did that for full East London effect (Geeza etc). Where Snatch involved shenanigans around a diamond, RocknRolla (vaguely) centres around a "lucky painting". Okay, so this is just one of the many subplots in the movie. The difficulty is due to the fact that the movie has many subplots but no real coherent main plot. Snatch did the "many subplots coming together" style of writing and worked well. RocknRolla just seems confused as to what direction it should be going in. None of the strands come together nicely leaving things unfulfilled (finally, I know what past girlfriends feel like).
Coupled with messy writing is the inclusion of a cast that doesn't seem comfortable with the accents. Lock Stock and Snatch worked well with characters playing East Londoners due to the fact that many of them were East Londoners. The exceptions to the "forced to have an East-End accent" rule are Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson and the actors playing the Russians. You can only imagine that most of them (when the director said "cut") went off to have tea and scones on a lovely doily covered table. Bloody Thesps.
Tom Wilkinson as (the bad guy) just doesn't scare you as much as he should. Sadly, you keep comparing his performance to that of Alan Ford's Brick Top (in Snatch). Brick Top was amusing and sadistic. Wilkinson's character (whose name I have already forgotten) is dull and pathetic. Wilkinson could have made this character so much more. Naturally (being written by Ritchie) everyone is a bad person (even the good guys) and it is often difficult to get your audience to empathise with these characters. In Lock Stock and Snatch, he managed it. In RocknRolla he didn't. You'd like to worry about Butler's One-Two character, but are not let into his world for long enough (surprising for a 2 hour film). It has been wildly reported that Thandie Newton refused to simulate a sex scene with Butler (due to him having a cold). Naturally I would have fired her on the spot. She is supposed to be an actor! Even if a big hulking Scottish man has a streaming nose, you should still be able to feign chemistry. Newton cannot and is ultimately wasted. Clearly she prefers smaller Americans with shinier teeth (as in Mission Impossible 2).
It is Ritchie's plan (apparently) to make two more sequels to the story (with the remaining characters who hadn't died). I'll admit that unless the writing gets tighter, I for one will not be looking forward to it. If anyone else had written (and directed) this story of the London Mob then I may have given some leeway with regards to the authenticity of the piece. The film becomes sloppy just as it starts to find its feet. There are many scenes that are genuinely hilarious such as Bob's confession to One-Two in the car. The whole story arc that gives "RocknRolla" its name (as far as I'm concerned) is about as amusing as repeatedly calling up the speaking clock whilst having your left leg run over by a milk float. Okay, so this was a random reference, but I am trying to get across to you, it was boring and painful.....VERY BORING AND PAINFUL. I have a good idea. Don't call it RocknRolla. Ritchie should have called it "One-Two" and concentrated on Butler's character further. It could also have been called "Luck" and just focused on how good luck can be changed into bad so easily. In truth, Ritchie could have called it Care Bears 4, for all I care. I'm sure there could have been some random reference to a character called "Care Bear". Anything would have been better than the misspelled title that is RocknRolla.
Lock Stock and Snatch worked due to the Cheeky Chappy style of the characters. Very few of the main characters in RocknRolla are memorable (despite most of them having silly monikers). According to IMDB Gemma Arterton is playing a part in the movie named "June". I'll admit that I never even noticed her. RocknRolla should have been so much more. It showed that Ritchie has somehow lost his flair as a director. Here's hoping that one day he'll get it back.
My Rating: 1.6 out of 10 (This movie was lazily directed and written. It could have been so much more).
Your Rating: 4 out of 10 (Strangely, I am looking forward to a sequel. Perhaps the characters will be better honed in the next one).