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