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In London, a real-estate scam puts millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting some of the city's scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick. While the city's seasoned criminals vie for the cash, an unexpected player -- a drugged out rock 'n' roller presumed to be dead but very much alive -- has a multi-million dollar prize fall into his hands
Guy Ritchie is a very good filmmaker. Some would call him the first of the MTV music video turned feature film directors, but I really don't agree with that statement. To generalize, MTV music videos tell a story more with its fast cut editing style than actual cinematic shots, and Ritchie's films are nothing like that. Yes, he does use quick shot to shot editing techniques to set up a situation and/or scene, but when he gets into the nuts and bolts of a conflict in his films, Ritchie almost always keeps the shot going without any cuts.
In fact, I would consider Ritchie a landmark filmmaker. I can't think of another filmmaker who's style has been ripped off or used more in the last two decades. And his style is really all original. This is a man who understands the camera and it's lenses, film stocks and camera toys (dollies, jibs, steadi-cam etc..). And he uses them with such style while he tells his plot heavy and multi-character stories with a modern musical soundtrack to carry the emotional beats of its story.
A typical Ritchie scene works like this:
- a seamless transition from the past scene to the new scene by dollying the camera and giving us something different while also keeping the same art direction style intact.
- first focus on the person and/or prop that is the focal point of the scene.
- cut to the antagonist of the scene. The person and/or thing that will get in the way and set up the overall conflict.
- cut back to the first focus as the camera moves inward, outward or side-to-side to give us the overall master shot and whereabouts of the location.
- same shot as we move towards the main conflicting situation with the character.
- same shot as we move back as the situation resolves.
- camera dollies to next scene.
In RocknRolla, Ritchie is back to where he started his career. His went in a different direction with his last two films, the almost unwatchable Swept Away and perhaps the most underrated film of this decade in Revolver (a film that its studio barried for some reason), but he's now back to what made him famous in the first place. The London criminal underworld and it's rich characters and fun plots.
There is really no main character in RocknRolla, but I guess its heart belongs to One-Two (Gerald Butler). Part of a gang that's would be considered small-time, One-Two is the character that mixes into the other character storylines the most. In one scene, he's dealing with one of his gang member's homosexuality (which is ironic in Ritchie's obvious homoerotic male dominated movies), then he's making business with a numbers wiz (Thandie Newton) looking for excitement and giving him tips to when a Russian organization is making their large money withdrawals. In one scene you think One-Two is an idiot who is in over his head, then you are surprised in the next scene by his overall smarts and determination.
The narrator of RocknRolla is Archie (Mark Strong, just seen in Body of Lies), the second in command to Lenny Cole's (Tom Wilkinson) organization. Archie is a loyal, good guy and a total realist. He seems to get the big picture while Lenny seems to be losing his overall touch. There is a power shift happening with the Russians and a beautiful painting (that we never see, ala Pulp Fiction's briefcase) is the basis of the overall plot. Everyone is looking for it and no one knows where it is.RocknRolla is a fun movie to watch. It's plot is simple but complicated if that makes any sense. There is a lot happening but as soon as you get into the story, you realize that there's very little going on. Ritchie keeps you engaged throughout with his shooting style and all of his created characters all have their own charm and richness. So all in all, if you want to go watch a popcorn film and have some fun, RocknRolla is a great choice over any of the other films Hollywood turns out. They entertain you without trying to dumb you down so the film's demographic can appeal to the largest amount of people.
3 stars out of 4!center>