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Directed by Guy Ritchie.
Written by Guy Ritchie.
Starring Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Idris Elba and Tom Wilkinson.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  11/4/08


After leaving an afternoon showing of "RocknRolla" with Meg and my out-of-town friends Brian and Lucie, Brian said it best:

"It was kind of like Guy Ritchie opened up his 'Lock, Stock...' playbook and tried to come up with a way to make this movie."

When you go and see "RocknRolla"--Ritchie's latest crime caper flick--you should probably do two things:  first, run, because it made less than $5 million in its first wide-release weekend and will be out of theaters soon; and, second, hope that you have NOT seen either "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", "Snatch", or "Revolver", because "RocknRolla" snatches scenes from all of them, adds a few useless characters, and rehashes everything you thought you liked about the other films in a way that makes the damned thing nearly tasteless.

This time around, our hapless bad guys/good guys are led by One Two (Gerard Butler, from "300"), thick on accent and light on brains; although One Two is never fully developed, I gathered that he is meant to be cocky, nice with the ladies, a music lover and a somewhat honorable, non-violent thief.  Remember, One Two is the good guy; he works with his best friends Mumbles (Idris Elba, Stringer Bell from "The Wire"...remember, in real life, he IS British, so playing a British thug is not a stretch) and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) on local jobs of a criminal nature, and when One Two's contact Stella (Thandie Newton) surfaces to offer him a gig, he takes it...and gets caught up in a scheme to rob a Russian (Karel Roden), hose a gangster (Tom Wilkinson), and find a dead rock star (Toby Kebbell) who...isn't...dead.

"RocknRolla" has one legitimately great aspect: its soundtrack.  Like his other films, this movie soundtrack will get downloaded a bunch on iTunes eventually; one could kind of see why Madonna would get all up in Ritchie's business, because the man clearly has an appreciation for good music.  This one aspect is what makes the film watchable; maybe the characters aren't as interesting, funny, tough, psychotic, etc. as in his other films, but when acting on top of a soundtrack featuring so many randomly great musical forms I stopped keeping track, "RocknRolla" at least makes the time go by somewhat peacefully.

The rest of the movie?  Blah.  Ritchie has still never been able to recapture the magic of the four main stars' chemistry in "Lock, Stock...", so the three-man partnership of Butler, Elba and Hardy never really measures up, even though it does get a couple of laughs during a sequence when Mumbles and One Two chat about their chum's romantic interests.  Newton continues to baffle me; I thought she was going to be a Big Star after her role as The Girl in "M:I-2"; now, each time I see her, I think to myself, "C'mon, girl, have a biscuit!!"  Jeremy Piven has a brief turn in this film, and somehow, he is completely unfunny in his part; Ludacris is also in the film, and while he is a top-five hip-hopper in my mind, he is NOT an actor and people keep casting him!  Why??  The collection of bit players is mostly bad, although I did get a chuckle watching the two Russian hitmen try to take down One Two during an extended chase sequence.

If you have never seen a Guy Ritchie film, watch this movie, then immediately watch "Snatch" or "Lock, Stock..." to see why everyone thought Ritchie was such a great director.  If you have seen any other Ritchie film, skip "RocknRolla" and catch up on your DVR.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09