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Fred Hates RocknRolla

Published October 10, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Warner Bros Pictures
RocknRolla Quad PosterRocknRolla
RocknRolla is by far Guy Ritchie's worst movie. Despite his recent disfavor with critics, I really dug Revolver and was forgiving of Swept Away. Mediocre, sure, but not the worst film of that year. They never are. I enjoyed Snatch enough and was mostly underwhelmed by Lock, Stock. RocknRolla is his first film that I just hated.

Review: RocknRolla

For actual fans of Lock, Stock and Snatch, this is the same thing. I recognize that. Those people will probably welcome Ritchie's return to formula. I only just remembered how lame Tarantino ripoffs actually are.

It's got all the pseudo cool tricks of speed ramping (fast motion), tricky editing and out of order storytelling. They use flashbacks because it would be an utterly banal story in proper sequence. The speed and cuts just try to be cool by showing violence by not showing it, but really they're showing it. Neither way is really shocking or artistic.

The film is so busy with all these tricks, I couldn't get invested in anyone. Bumbling crooks are cute, I guess. Record producers are businessmen thrust into the criminal element. There are just so many characters, it's sprawling without any reason. We bounce around watching people serve convoluted plot functions, barely playing one note most of the time, so who cares?

There's a lot of repetition too. Each character has to get the same info, whether we've already heard it or not. Even with all this explaining, I still didn't know or care what was going on. And homophobic rants may address a real criminal's insecurity, but they're not entertaining.

There may have been more artful stuff, but I don't know. The dialogue is really hard to understand. It's not the accents. I understand Trainspotting fine. It's the babbling and mumbling.

Even the rock music just seems immature. It's clearly a crutch, because none of these scenes would be cool without a pounding score. That makes it more like a video game, than a film like Shoot 'Em Up, where the blaring music only complemented an already creative aesthetic. This is all the kind of abrasive rock that kids like to annoy their parents.

RocknRolla feels like little kids playing sex and violence. It's all so immature. Perhaps that will be a certain joy for some viewers, but I prefer my immaturity with a bit of sophistication, like South Park or Chappelle's Show.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Warner Bros Pictures

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