Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I wasn't incredibly impressed with Ritchie's other outing, Layer Cake, starring Daniel Craig no less. But I'm definately a fan of Ritchie's style of filmmaking. His Sherlock Holmes movies feel very hollywood in comparison. They're action movies. Every other scene climaxes with an action piece. And while he's proved himself quite adept at producing thoroughly entertaining action setups, by this point it feels like oversaturation. I have my complaints about the latest Holmes, and even there its "nevertheless" and it is a fun movie. But Rock N Rolla just ticked all my boxes in a whole 'nother way.
In many scenes it feels almost like neo-noir. Or like its a piece of Pulp Fiction, and while it may never quite reach the heights of pure unbridled entertainment like 'Fiction, it entertains in much the same way. They feel remotely connected in tone and substance, and its a very welcome feeling of familiarity. I enjoy crime dramas alot. Especially the punkish ones like this. The ones who realize they have style. But just short of being labeled 'classy'. Its too gritty for 'classy'. Too ballsy. Or at least, it would want you to think it is.
The in's and out's of the plot, for the sake of keeping this review at a reasonable length, is pretty much irrelevant for the time being but I'll highlight what I can. Its about these massive property deals, and going through unnofficial channels to aquire said property. But when two big wigs of the game, one a london player, the other a russian immigrant, try to cut a deal, and their mutual accountant keeps screwing things up with the help of a local group of troublemakers, things begin to spin wildly out of control. And it all ends up tracing back to a supposedly dead rock star: Johnny Quid. The film isn't primed as so much to really get you looking for twists and turns, because every plot point seems to be a twist or turn in itself, but there is a massive twist towards the end I totally didn't see coming. It was really well handled too.
And I can't conclude this review without mentioning the fantastic cast here with Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, and Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges. Every single one of them turns in a strong memorable performance. If any complaints can be made, is that certain characters feel underused or out of place. But in the long run, its because it feels like an episode in a TV show. Like we're already familiar with these guys; backstory and introduction not nescessary right? Wrong. We're given alot of characters to follow, but only given the slightest most basic detail about them. Maybe I missed a tid bit here or there, but the 'lead' character in this movie 'Mr.One Two' (Gerard Butler) actually ends up feeling just a little peripheral. The movie is clearly Achibald's movie (Mark Strong). He's the narrator and the main bad guy's long time right arm. He steals the show on more than one occasion, and provides some quite memorable dialog.
The film is throughly enjoyable, and it rides on the typical snappy Guy Ritchian dialog we've come to expect, with lots of wit and charm. The lead characters are fun to watch and the chemistry between them is palpable and classic. Every aspect of Rock N Rolla is handled well. I loved watching these characters navagate this messy maze of crime, double crosses, coincedences, and mystery. Its smart, fast, funny and total entertainment. Top shelf Guy Ritchie movie. Not to be missed.