DVD REVIEW: RocknRolla

Directed by Guy Ritchie
(Warner Bros.)

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The latest offering from Guy Ritchie, well known writer/director of Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, RocknRolla has all the glam, crime, quick cuts, witty English slang, and sprawling ensemble cast of recognizable stars from his earlier films. Somehow though, this story comes off less fresh-faced rock n’ roll and more familiar deadbeat tune.

What once was the sexy/edgy look into the grimy fabulous underworld of London; it’s multi-racial street culture, class stratified layers of criminals, and hilariously dry irony, had somehow drained out of RocknRolla. The film seems too conscious of itself, and the style seemingly forced. The story is a familiar one; Gangland bosses make shady multi-million dollar deal, one of their employees hires a small time gang to grab the cash, money disappears, all hell breaks loose as hard nosed thugs battle it out to lay hands on the money and title of King of London’s underworld; add a splash of rock hard abs, jump cut action, and plenty of graphic violence; viola, you’ve got RocknRolla.

To the film’s credit the actors put on a believable show, each seeming quite gleeful to inhabit the skin of their own smarmy smart assed crook. But unless the viewer pays very close attention (and perhaps puts the subtitles on), you’ll probably lose the thread of the story as all the characters become entwined in some murky fashion while talking too quickly and with such vernacular that one forgets how exactly.

Interestingly, the film was nominated for a GLAAD Award (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) honoring a Widely Released Outstanding Film, probably due to its inclusion of a positively represented gay character in the main band of small time crooks. The film didn’t win the award and that about says it all.

Kenneth Joachim

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