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We’ve Got Two Reviews For Guy Ritchie’s ROCKNROLLA!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. We’ve got two reviews this morning for Guy Ritchie’s new film, both from the Empire Movie Con in London. This first guy also has a number of details from the post-movie chat with Ritchie and rising star Mark Strong. I just scanned it because I don’t want to know much. I’m seeing the movie Wednesday morning, and so far, I haven’t seen a frame of it, which is exciting:

Hello, This weekend at the Empire Movie Con their surprise screening was ROCKNROLLA. Apparently this is the first time it has been shown to a public audience anywhere in the world. After the film the director Guy Richie and one of the actors Mark Strong who plays Archie came out to answer some questions but a bit more on that later. Firstly the film (which was digitally projected and looked utterly pristine) which centers on... well, that’s the thing. As with most Guy Richie films this is an ensemble piece that intertwines many, many characters seemingly in pursuit of their own goals while at the same time becoming embroiled in the main plot in some way either by design or some set of serendipitous events. Anyway the film deals with the way that London has changed over the last 20 odd years and how Britain increasingly relies on foreign investors to rejuvenate its inner cities. In ROCKANDROLLA this is represented by Karel Rodens Russian businessman Uri who strikes a deal with gangland boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) to grease the wheels of a property deal he wants to close in months rather than years. At their first meeting Lenny comments of a painting Uri has, Uri’s ‘Lucky’ painting, which he gives to Lenny as a show of goodwill until their business is complete. A few days later the painting goes missing and Lenny is very very unhappy. Add into this the ‘Wild Bunch’ (as they call themselves of One Two (Gerard Butler) Idris Elba as Mumbles and their driver Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) as a gang charged with stealing Uri’s payments to Lenny (which makes the situation worse as time goes on), and the ‘death’ of a rock star Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) and you have the beginnings of a (very) complicated tale of London’s gangland. Now when I say complicated I do not mean that you cant follow the story. Its refreshing to have a film that keeps the audience trying to guess how one scene or set of characters relate to another and seemingly small characters or events all connect and play out to complete the story to satisfaction by the end. The film is full of many elements that you would associate with a Guy Richie film, violence, bad language, pitch black comedy, innovative camera techniques and fast cuts. However these all serve the story and perhaps more so than any of his previous work it shows more focus, cohesion, polish and mastery of the craft than any of his other films. Here there is a clear sense of evolution in his work even though it would be easy to say that there was little revolution in yet another London based gangster film, this has so much more than any of the poor cousins of that sub genre that currently grace (straight to) DVD shelves. Johnny Quids poignant monologue about the truth of life represented ‘within the four walls of a cigarette packet’ is very thought provoking whereas at another point in the film Johnny attacks a bouncer with a pencil in a way far more brutal than the Joker did earlier this year. There is a fantastic sequence involving the Wild Bunch’s bungled attempt to rob some Russian mafia that begins with a Jaws homage (the Russians comparing wounds and scars) then morphs into Terminator 2 with one of the seemingly indestructible Russians hanging from the back of a car using knifes a la T1000 and then…. Well there is a running joke throughout the film questioning One Twos sexuality and what he did or didn’t do one particular night however by the end of that sequence if you think of a Russian version of ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ playing in the background a gag ball, machetes and two semi naked drunk Russians you sort of get the picture. Other supporting characters that weave around the story include Thandie Newton as the wife of a gay lawyer who has a thing for a bit of east end rough (actually that applies to her and her husband) and Jimi Mistry as ‘The Councilor’ hopelessly out of his depth but too important and influential to kill. There are also extended cameos for Ludicris and the fantastic Jeremy Piven as club owners / band managers of the aforementioned Johnny Quid and the Quid lickers. Matt King as Cookie who also delivers a nice little story about his time as a junkie and Nonso Anozie as Tank an informer / ticket tout who has a penchant for merchant ivory films he watches from the back of his car. Like I said the story has many layers and twists and the audience I watched it with loved it and there were a few moments that had everyone roaring with laughter one in particular involving a ‘slow dance’ that to say anymore would spoil it however if you hang around for the end credits you get to see it in its entirety. All the actors get their moment to shine and there is not a dud performance in the whole picture right from the steely gangland bosses at the top of the tree, the almost ethereal Johnny Quid, the on the surface rough east end gangsters right down to the twitchy junkies ‘what’s your problem its only fire’ one of them wines when a lighter he steals is taken back. In the end though this is the story of Johnny Quid and his rise (or fall depending how you look at it) the end credits state that Johnny will return for ‘The Real ROCKANDROLLA’ and I for one cant wait. I hope this gets the wide release it deserves but I am not sure how it will play to an American audience, but its Guy Richie most accomplished film to date and you should definitely seek it out. As I previously mentioned at the end of the film Guy Richie and Mark Strong who plays Archie (Lennys right hand man) came out to answer some questions they got a huge round of applause and Guy said that he was really pleased that we enjoyed the film and it was very reassuring to seen an audiences reaction be so positive. Mark Strong said how he loved working on a small film as it moved very fast in production and that a few weeks later he was in the desert with Ridley Scott and Leonardo Dicaprio filming Body of lies where they had 3 different crews (English, German, Italian) all trying to film the same shots and getting in each others way and that it was long and boring and a lot of waiting around. Guy said that he was happy with all the films he had made (a few cheers when Revolver was mentioned but no one said the words Swept Away) and that as a film maker he feels that he is just getting to the point where he has finished his apprenticeship and now knows enough about film making to explore other genres. Someone asked if he would like to make an American gangster film and he revealed that the Third ROCKANDROLLA film (as it was always intended to be trilogy) eventually ends up in America and hopefully he will get to make 2 and 3 sometime soon. However not that soon as the next film he is working on is Sherlock Holmes (this got big cheers) and confirmed Robert Downey Jr as Holmes (more cheers) and that Mark Strong could be the principal bad guy (Moriarty perhaps?) he said he was happy to make a big studio picture as it means more money and time but he would still apply the same principles as when he was making music videos in two days many years ago. Someone asked if Sherlock Holmes would be like his other films which visibly annoyed him and he said ‘I am not going to have Holmes pick up a gun, in fact I find that aspect quite tedious now’. So there you go, it was a surprise screening everyone loved it and it was fantastic to hear Guy and Mark talk about their work, Seek out ROCKANDROLLA and remember if your best friend is going to prison for five years be careful what they ask for as a going away present. All the Best - Ilander66.

And now, our second review for it, from a guy who really loved the first few films by Ritchie:

I just got back from Movie-Con in London with a showing of RocknRolla, and I thought a review might help. The music started, the first one in the trailer, with the look from the opening logos and the cast and title like the trailer, really cool, and then it sinks. I LOVE Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and enjoyed Snatch but have avoided Swept Away and Revolver due to the bad reviews and the looks of Guy Ritchie going serious, and this one sadly falls into seriousness throughout, even in the funniest times it doesn't quite work due to the overly complex telling of a tale about a missing lucky painting, which like the guns in Lock, Stock, ends up in every characters' hands at any one point. The film has some great moments, the characters in Gerard Butlers social circle, with Gerard's manly man doing anything to make money that he has to pay, Thandie Newton as an accountant wanting to have some fun, and Mark Strong as Archie, the narrator of the piece, who works for Tom Wilkinson and is on the hunt for Johnny Quid, no spoilers here, but it's rather obvious. But for the rest of the time the film does nothing, the painting storyline becomes the Quid storyline, but there's the on going deal between Wilkinson's Lenny and a Russian businessman, who everytime he tries to get 7 million euros to Lenny, his Accountant Thandie Newton has people set up to take it, in the funniest scenes of the film, including an extended action/chase around small parts of East London between the small group and two invincible Russian Soldiers. The film has another two great moments, a stabbing in time to "Be my little rock and roll queen" or whatever it's called, disturbing and well done, and a magnificent sex scene which has to be the funniest short sex scene ever and the shortest sex scene ever, I shan't ruin it, it's funny stuff. The film slowly grinds to a halt after not too much happens with a twist we all know, and feels oddly stolen from every other gangster with a mole in the ranks movie, and an ending title which says that these people will be back in "Really RocknRolla" God I hope not, the film was dire and had little to offer, the acting was good, but the dialogue was a parody of good Ritchie, and the whole style whilst nice seemed to be completely half thought, like they tried to do something Ritchie's films never have, and then decided to take it easy b removing anything not brownish. It's a true shame that the film, with great acting and music, fails in plot and pacing, with terrible dialogue, I long for Guy to putdown the pen and just direct and see how it goes, he's great, if he doesn't do his own stuff, he's too in love with himself. 4/10 If you use this call me EthanRunt
Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 25, 2008, 2:58 a.m. CST


    by Velcron the persistent


  • Aug. 25, 2008, 3:10 a.m. CST

    the current AICN logo animation

    by Chumkid

    Am I the only one who hates it? I've actually told my browser not to display anymore images at all when I come to AICS because I find the current logo so obnoxious and stupid.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 3:19 a.m. CST

    Ethan Runt

    by Smugit

    One wonders if "EthanRunt" is rhyming slang...

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 3:54 a.m. CST

    Guy Ritchie

    by WavingFlagsInSpace

    The first seems too much like a puff piece and I think that Ethan Runt is onto something with his hope that Guy Ritchie might be better served by directing material by other writers. Maybe his confidence was swept away by his recent crapfests and this was his chance to stand on safe ground for a while. Having loved LSATSB & Snatch so much, I guess I want to see him shine again...

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 4:03 a.m. CST

    I'm looking forward to it...

    by Alonzo Mosely

    If it's shit, well it's shit. But I watched LS&2SB again a few weeks back and I enjoyed the heck out of it. If this can hit that vibe I'll be happy even if everyone else hates it...

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 4:19 a.m. CST

    Ah, the malign influence of Mrs Guy Ritchie

    by newc0253

    even when she isn't in his films, she stinks them up.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 4:31 a.m. CST


    by tomdolan04

    I don't like the animation either. <p> Lock Stock was solid, but Guy Ritchies films generally are waaaaay to smug and self-satisfied with themselves for me. <p> I can see their appeal though and hell my guilty pleasure action flicks fall in line more with Stathams Transporter, Crank, dumb hitman rampage movie #4299 so what do I know?

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 4:46 a.m. CST

    Damn You Michael Bay


    Damn You Michael Bay

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 6:18 a.m. CST

    Rocknrolla will doughnut the fuck out of you fron lawn!!

    by PoweredUpPacman

    It needed to be said and you fucking know it!

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 6:20 a.m. CST

    "...youR fronT lawn!!"

    by PoweredUpPacman

    Yes, I tried to make funny and fucked it up. Happy?

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 6:31 a.m. CST

    So the dude thought...

    by Banzai Rootskibango was funny and had some great scenes and good acting...and then gives it a 4 out of 10. Can you say "mixed signals?"

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 6:39 a.m. CST

    I agree with review 2...

    by Executor

    ...saw it at a screening last week. It does have some great scenes and good acting, but the reason it is so unsatisfying is that the plot and story have no tension or stakes. Russian gangster Uri makes a deal with British gangster Lenny to grease the wheels of a property development. Some other guys steal the money. Another guy steals a painting. And then we mix and match, bouncing back and forth between everyone for an hour and a half, with nothing building or escalating. The movie starts slow, hits a good stride for a while, then peters out to a slow tepid finale. Yeah, if you watch an individual scene you might enjoy the dialogue or characters, but scene after scene for two hours where nothing is really going anywhere...not a great movie.<P>Entertaining enough for a rental, but if you're looking for Lock Stock or Snatch, this isn't it.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 6:48 a.m. CST

    1st review

    by KGersen

    ...sounds like a plant. Hope that's not the case and Ritchie has made a good film but I fear not. As for him doing, Sherlock Holmes, well you never know, it might be inspired by dragging him away from British gangster films to new material. Or it might be horrible. I'm not too convinced by Downey Junior as Holmes. He's a great actor and has a lot of charisma but I would have thought there were other actors out there that looked a lot more like the Holmes of Conan Doyle.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 7:02 a.m. CST

    As the writer of the first review..

    by ilander66

    I can assure you I am not a plant. Just because I liked the film doesn't mean I have been paid to like it by the studio or anyone else. Watch the film decide for yourselves.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 7:05 a.m. CST

    Mark Strong is great

    by ChorleyFM

    A brilliant actor who has done some amazing TV work over here with The Long Firm and Our Friends in The North (with Daniel Craig). He deserves loads of success. It is a shame he went bald early, because he is only now reaching an age where he can get good film work.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 7:13 a.m. CST

    Can't trust the 2nd reviewer


    He refuses to watch films when other people tell him they are bad<P>And my initial reaction to the animation was'nt favourable and It aint growing on me and i just don't get it?

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 7:19 a.m. CST

    Will Rocknrolla be further proof that without Matthew Vaughn...

    by PoweredUpPacman

    ...Guy Ritchie is an unguided missile? Revolver certainly implied it: that one was over-the-top-coockoo-nutball-crazy-as-fuck. But in a fun way IMO. Vaughn was definitely the stable hand keeping both Snatch and LSTSM somewhere in the real world. Just compare Layercake and Revolver, both their first solo outings. Layercake was rocksolid from beginning to end whereas Revolver seemed to go postal from the get go. Me, for one, I like nuts (but not in a gay way) so for me it was entertaining. But I can see why the crowds were turned off by it. Vaughn acted like Ritalin to Ritchie's ADHD. I just hope that in Rocknrolla he found some of that much needed restraint. Or some new Ritalin.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 8:28 a.m. CST


    by Judge Briggs

    "Tyrone, you could fit a jumbo jet in that space." I love Ritchie's movies and you can count me in on this one... looks great.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 9 a.m. CST

    Revolver made me want to cockchoke innocent bystanders

    by JackRabbitSlim

    That movie took the love and admiration I had for Tarantino-esque-caper-movie Guy Ritchie and VasoLubed the shimmering life right out of it. A movie on sublimating the ego? You gotta be fuckin kidding me. Whats next - one on the mystical powers of Kabbalah?

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 9:01 a.m. CST

    "He refuses to watch films when other people tell him they are b

    by newc0253

    No, seems to me the 2nd reviewer does what any sane person would do: not bother to see a movie that got terrible reviews.<p> i liked Lock Stock and thought Snatch was great. But i didn't bother with the last two Guy Ritchie films because every review i read talked about how much ass they sucked. I don't go to movies purely based on reviews & i've read plenty of negative reviews of movies that i loved, but if every review on the face of the planet says that a movie is a stinker, why would i waste my time going to see it?<p>

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST

    Cher as Catwoman, Johny Depp as The Riddler

    by barnaby jones

    Could it be true ??

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 10:18 a.m. CST

    10 years out of date

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Guy Ritchie needs a new line of work.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST

    Revolver was awesome...

    by Dreamseller


  • Aug. 25, 2008, 11:06 a.m. CST

    The return of stringer bell as mumbles

    by weeddawgg

    Will Omar be hot on his tale in a british accent??

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 11:29 a.m. CST

    I LOVED Revolver

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    But I realise I am in a minority on this lol

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 11:35 a.m. CST

    Plant versus a weed.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST

    I will go see this

    by Broseph

    Just because i loved lock,stock, and snatch

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 2:22 p.m. CST

    I'm confused

    by Charlie_Allnut

    Why wouldn't Sherlock Holmes carry a gun? I have read all the books/stories, and he frequently carries a revolver. I'm both curious and scared to see how this turns out.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 3:39 p.m. CST

    charlie allnut

    by ilander66

    Apparently they want to focus on Holmes other skills such as swordfighting. Maybe there will be gunplay involved but not from Holmes. I think that what Guy Richie Said was a reaction to the question would this film be like his others and clearly he wants to branch out from gangster flicks. plus i doubt the studio would want an r rated big budget holmes movie.

  • Aug. 25, 2008, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Downey Jr as Holmes

    by force_fed

    RDJ playing a coke head? That's as much a stretch as him playing a drunk. Are these directors trying to make him relapse? Poor bastard.

  • Aug. 26, 2008, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Downey Jr. can pull off Holmes!!

    by TheWaqman

    But Guy Ritchie will instantly make it a pile of shit since he's directing. I enjoyed Lock Stock, Snatch was alright but already at his second movie and the formula was getting stale. This is just going to be fucking fail. And fuck Rocknrolla.