‘RocknRolla’ – Guy Ritchie’s song remains the same

‘RocknRolla’ – Guy Ritchie’s song remains the same

Gotta hand it to Guy Ritchie of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” fame. What other writer/director can forge an entire career without creating one reasonable facsimile of a character?

Don’t get me wrong. Ritchie’s films are chock full of Characters, no doubt.

But they never come anywhere close to resembling real people. They’re just a collection of tics and poses who just so happen to look like famous actors.

Ritchie is at it again in “RocknRolla,” his latest Cockney crime caper.

As always, it takes a while for us to realize we’ve been snookered. “RocknRolla” starts with the anatomy of a grift, or several, really. It all revolves around a real estate deal built on a foundation of lies and intimidation.

The key players include an aging power broker (Tom Wilkinson), a two-bit hit man (Gerard Butler), a Russian entrepreneur (Karel Roden) and a rock star (Toby Kebbell, the film’s best asset) who may or may not be dead.

How these players fight, swear and preen makes up the bulk of the film. All the snazzy camera tricks and on-screen swagger grabs you by the scruff of the neck, but ultimately it only barks out a few empty threats before letting you go.

The main characters get great nicknames like One Two, Mumbles and Handsome Bob, but they’re left without anything resembling a back story. We’re treated to a slinky turn by the hard-working Thandie Newton, but her dance scene with Butler’s character feels like a faded Xerox of the Travolta-Thurman shuffle in “Pulp Fiction.”

All posturing. No heat.

One day, Ritchie will either learn to tell an honest to God story, or he’ll find a collaborator who can use the best of his gifts and merge them with his own storytelling instincts.

Until then, we’ll await the promised sequel to “RocknRolla” — all the while knowing it’ll be the same ol’ Ritchie movie with just a few casting changes.

(Photo: Gerard Butler is being chased into a deserted tunnel in Guy Ritchie’s “Rocknrolla.”)

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray LandonNo Gravatar January 9, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Why do the characters have to resemble real people? Why can’t they be fun and inventive? This movie wasn’t made to change lives or people’s views on the world, it was made to be fun to watch and to be enjoyed. Don’t point out what the film isn’t (a deep, rich, thought-invoking movie or whatever you want it to be). If you don’t like it, state reasons within the film (like bad acting, camerawork, etc.) and if it’s not you’re style, then say that and be done with it, but don’t criticize the film because it doesn’t fall within you’re likings.

cftotoNo Gravatar January 9, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Ray — thanks for sharing your thoughts. I didn’t expect the film to change people’s lives or their views … but I need to connect with characters on even the most basic level to enjoy a film. Give me something, anything to relate to … even superhero movies or Adam Sandler comedies provide those bare essentials.

To me, Ritchie doesn’t deliver that basic, and I would say mandatory, element in his work – although the otherwise mediocre Swept Away is an exception. That’s my bias … and I think I set the bar pretty low for films to meet.

Ray LandonNo Gravatar January 20, 2009 at 2:29 am

fair enough…agree to disagree

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