Thursday, May 14, 2009
“People ask a question. ‘What’s a RocknRolla?’
“And I tell ‘em, it’s not about drums, drugs, ‘n hospital drips. Oh, no. There’s more there than that, my friend.
“We all like a bit o’ the good life. Some, the money. Some, the drugs. Others, the sex game, the glamour, or the fame.
“But a RocknRolla, oh, he’s different.
“Because a real RocknRolla wants the f*ckin’ lot.”
Now, when Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels blasted its way onto my film geek’s radar, it blew my proverbial socks off, and instantly made Guy Ritchie a name to keep track of.
And when Snatch came barreling ‘round the bend, I loved the damn thing too, despite those who clamoured that it was simply more of the same and that Ritchie was a one-trick pony.
Then came the whole “let’s get married to Madonna” thing and Swept Away, which, though it seemed to promise an altogether different Guy Ritchie, I’ve thus far managed to steer clear of, in fear that what all its haters have to say would turn out to be true.*
Afterwards, there was the widely misunderstood Revolver, which I also happen to love, where Ritchie took the lowlife criminal milieu he’d long ago staked out as his territory, and brought it to some new, interestingly heady places.
And now, with his Madonna Period apparently behind him, he’s brought us RocknRolla, which, if you haven’t yet figured out, is more of the same Guy Ritchie: the humourous and messy collision of crime, coincidence, and funny monickers.
This time though, I’m not exactly dancing in the aisles.
It’s a good ‘un, this, don’t get me wrong, it’s just a tad… sedate.
Not a word one would normally associate with Guy Ritchie, “sedate,” but what I truly missed here is the audacious adrenaline rush that Barrels and Snatch had.
Not that RocknRolla doesn’t have its moments—Gerard Butler’s two dance scenes; the sex scene; the Jaws nod. Those—and more—are here.
Somehow though, the whole doesn’t feel all that cheeky anymore. I hesitate to say it’s all become rather old hat now, but there could be an argument for that possibility.
Here, the various plot threads also seem to jostle against each other a little awkwardly, an indication that perhaps (unlike Barrels or Snatch) there may be a tad too much narrative going on.
Lovers of Ritchie’s first two films will know a significant chunk of the beats and the eventualities presented in RocknRolla only too well, so for those in whom familiarity does not breed a vague annoyance, this should prove to be bang-on.
There’s also a great cast in this: Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Strong (Stardust’s Septimus, who also happened to be in Revolver), Karel Roden, the exquisite Thandie Newton, to name some, so that’s a plus too. (Curiously enough, for all my whinging about “same” this and “old hat” that, I do miss Jason Statham, who’s gone on to 21st-century Action Star status and left a gaping hole in Ritchie’s lowlife-landia. Hell, even Vinnie Jones might have been a welcome shot of nostalgia.)
Quite possibly, in some alternate reality where I’d never seen any of Ritchie’s past work before, I am truly, madly, and deeply in love with RocknRolla.
As it is, in this reality, RocknRolla and I are on good terms: we smile at each other while salsa-ing on the dance floor, exchanging polite pleasantries in fancy-fonted subtitles.
Truth is though, I’m just not that into her.
So, though I was looking forward to Ritchie’s take on Sgt. Rock (a project currently on hold in light of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds), I am still curiously anticipating Sherlock Holmes, if only because we may just get to see an altogether different Guy Ritchie at its helm.
And better Holmes than The Real RocknRolla, as the end credits of RocknRolla threaten, ey?
* “Star” (from the BMW Hire shorts) was also an amusing ride, though certainly not the best of the Hire bunch…
(RocknRolla UK quad courtesy of empireonline.com; images courtesy of empireonline.com & ew.com.)