RocknRolla (UK - BD)
Our Marcus steals a painting from a RocknRolla as well as this Blu-ray....
A couple of small timers, One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba), are doing their best to get in on the ever growing London property market. They get involved with crime boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), only to be outgunned in the cash department, leading Lenny to get into business with Russian property developer, Uri (Krel Roden).
In a gesture of goodwill in their new business relationship, Uri lends Lenny his lucky painting, hoping that this deal will make a lot of cash for the both of them. Unfortunately someone takes the painting from Lenny’s home and now he has to find Uri’s lucky painting before the big money deal falls apart. Giving the task to his right hand man Archie (Mark Strong), a search goes out amongst the many levels of the London crime scene to track down the painting and soon everyone’s involved, even if they don’t all know about it.
After having a bit of hiatus from the genre that made his name, Guy Ritchie’s back with another British crime tale. Using his laid back style and ability to make London as cool a crime canvas as the big American counterparts, Richie clearly spent too long in the movie wilderness with the likes of Swept Away and Revolver. Now I’m not saying I’m one of ‘those’ Guy Ritchie movie fans as such, in fact I’m as lukewarm with Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels now as I was when the UK touted Richie as the British Tarantino back in the late nineties, but at the same time, I can’t deny being one of those people that ate up Snatch with great delight.
In my mind, Ritchie’s biggest skill, other than using a great deal of enjoyable slang in his movies, is he somehow has a knack of taking a lot of almost completely unrelated elements and making them slowly come together. With RocknRolla he really throws the randomness out there and is obviously having a blast playing with it. While watching, you know how all of these different groups of characters know each other, but the paths that each of these characters go down are almost completely random parts of totally different movies. To counter the old school stereotypes of the mouthy crime boss and his goons we get a side tale involving a junkie presumed dead rock star, as well as a blossoming love story between a dodgy accountant and a member of group of small time criminals and it's all very effective in showing the different levels of crime in Richie’s London as well as doing well at keeping you guessing.
There are plenty of memorable moments to enjoy along the way as well. Scenes involving how to give someone a proper slap, the weirdest dance scene I’ve seen in a long while, one of the most crazy series of events revolving around a simple smash and grab that just gets more and more entertaining and a pure laugh out moment where Gerard Butler’s One Two discovers that his best mate Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) the 'lady killer' is actually a ‘homo’ soon mounts up to lots of elements that make RocknRolla an easy and mostly enjoyable watch.
Generally everything works well. Characters skip the line between caricatures of stereotypes and genuine delights and all in all the main players, Gerard Butler, Toby Kebbell, and Mark Strong are likable and easily carry you through the many twists and turns on offer. However Guy Richie’s return to British crime isn’t all great. Even though it all comes together nicely with a pretty little bow, it somehow never felt like the payoff I was hoping for and there were many times throughout its near two hour runtime where I just wasn’t bothered about the main storyline as much as I was the mini stories that filled the gaps between plot points. The smaller moments with Gerard Butler and Thandie Newton, or Toby Kebbell and his long bouts of junkie wisdom or even the junkies trying to sell their fur jackets in the club were just too much fun for me to care about the coming together of the crime boss’s failures.
When Guy Ritchie is on form, he’s a solid filmmaker who has a style and voice that’s all his own and despite feeling a little one note, this generally keeps his audience happy. RocknRolla isn’t as good as Snatch (though it has to be said it’s been a while since I last saw that), but this is the most entertaining tale he’s woven together for us in quite some time and seeing as his next outing is a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, which the idea of does nothing for me, I’d like to think he’ll use ability to tell a good story with great characters to make the project into something at least as enjoyable as RocknRolla.
Generally using a palette of browns, creams and oranges, RocknRolla looks clean and cool even if it’s not as detailed as you’d might expect from an HD transfer. Blacks are also pretty good throughout and I hardly noticed any form of grain or issues with the image.
It’s by no means a show off disc but I was pretty impressed with the style of RocknRolla and it consistently looked good on this Blu-ray release, no matter where each scene was set.
The opening scene’s use of blues riffs and lots of bass was initially impressive and really used the speakers well, but it soon becomes apparent that RocknRolla was only ever going to show off like this when there was a cool bit of music on the soundtrack.
The majority of the speaker action takes place in the fronts with much of the voice over dialogue sitting snugly in the centre. It’s a mix that remains clear throughout but never really does anything beyond keeping it simple outside of odd bit of bass use.
Starting with trailers for Body of Lies and Appaloosa the first real feature we meet is the commentary by Guy Ritchie and Mark Strong. It’s informative and an okay companion to the movie, but it’s far from exciting and both Richie’s and Strong’s voice get a little too monotone as it goes on.
‘Blokes, Birds and Bankhanders’ (15:03) is essentially a making of and gives a bit of a background into the movies, as does ‘Guy’s Town’ (08:32), which is a close look at how London has evolved into the city it is today and what Richie took from his knowledge of the city. To finish, we get one deleted scene (02:00).
Guy Ritchie fans should lap this one up by the spoonful, as should fans of British crime dramas and comedies in general. It’s packed with fun characters and great dialogue that you’ll no doubt hear repeated in pub conversations and from wannabe mockney gangsters who enjoy all this stuff just a little too much.
Personally, I tend to enjoy these type of movies whilst I’m watching them and soon forget them afterwards, but in RocknRolla’s case, while the main plot slips effortlessly into that area, the small moments and fun characters will hang around for a whole lot longer. Well worth a look, even if it’s just a rental. Oh and good to see Gerard Butler in a movie that isn’t a rom-com.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 2nd February 1995
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Portuguese
Subtitles: English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese
Extras: Commentary, Additional Scene, Inside RocknRolla, Guy's Town
Easter Egg: No
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell, Tom Wilkinson
Length: 115 minutes
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