BluRay/DVD Reviews

ROCKNROLLA

By • Mar 1st, 2009 •

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Now that the Madonna years are over, director Guy Ritchie has returned to his comfort zone with ROCKNROLLA, a frenetic action comedy rife with cockneys, double-crosses and one liners sure to sate your appetite for more SNATCH and LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS. Archie (Mark Strong of, SYRIANA, SUNSHINE and STARDUST) is a no-nonsense errand boy working for even-less-nonsense real estate gangster Lenny (Tom Wilkinson of BATMAN BEGINS and VALKYRIE) caught in the midst of managing a deal with Uri (Karel Rodel of HELLBOY and THE BOURNE SUPREMACY) the murderous Russian land developer, Lenny’s believed-dead-but-only-missing step-son-cum-rock-star Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell of ALEXANDER and MATCH POINT) and the criminal bunglings of the local gang on the rise, “The Wild Bunch”. What he doesn’t know is that Stella (Thandie Newton of CRASH and BELOVED), Uri’s genius accountant, is bored with her day job and has taken to ripping off her boss with help from One Two (Gerard Butler of REIGN OF FIRE and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) and the rest of the “Wild Bunch” with reckless abandon, while Lenny and Archie take the heat for the missing loot. It gets more complicated from there.

ROCKNROLLA is a lot of fun. The action is quick, the dialogue is direct, and there’s at least a few laugh-out-loud moments in there. On the downside there’re so many characters, in such a twisty plot, that it can be difficult to follow at times. The first act had me scratching my head once or twice trying to remember who everybody was and what they were doing, and I had to watch it with the subtitles on to help penetrate the cockney. ROCKNROLLA is probably the only film I can think of that actually pays homage to (instead of parodying) a favorite of mine: TERMINATOR 2. There’s a great moment in the midst of a chase sequence where “The Wild Bunch” are fleeing a less-than-perfect-robbery, which perfectly conjures memories of Sarah, John and Arnie fleeing the mental hospital while being chased by the relentless T-1000. Toby Kebbell also delivers a great monologue as Johnny Quid while fingering out a bittersweet melody on an abused bar piano about the nature of addiction.

As to the quality of the Blu-Ray… well, it’s fantastic. The winner of the HD format delivers the ultimate home theater experience it promises. The special features on the disc are a bit light however. “Blokes, Birds, and Backhanders” fills the roll of the “making-of” featurette, but in fairness it felt more like an electronic press kit than an informative look at the process behind the film. “Guy’s Town” is an eight-minute overview of the current state of land development in London, and it’s interesting but light on information. Though I’m not sure anyone’s buying Blu-Ray’s for the special features – I think it has more to do with the color depth, the 1080p resolution, and the 5.1 surround sound, right?

All in all ROCKNROLLA is a blast, a fast-paced crime comedy with enjoyable performances from the whole cast. Best enjoyed with popcorn, I rate this one “watch” with a suggestion that you not take it too seriously.

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