Genre: Action / Adventure
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Writing credits: Guy Ritchie
Plot: A London crime boss has to retrieve a stolen painting of sentimental value to a business partner; said painting winds up in the hands of a washed up, drugged out, supposedly dead rock star.
Review: Most of my British friends can't stand Guy Ritchie's films, arguing that they are conceited and trite, but I have to say that I quite enjoyed Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. However, after watching his latest release, RocknRolla, I am starting to understand why my British friends may feel that way about his earlier work.
Ritchie's earlier gangster films featured likable characters, fun (if perhaps a bit silly) stories, and really popping slang dialog that was a joy for my American ears to hear. Unfortunately, his newest film, hailed by some as "a return to form" after his disastrous collaboration with Madonna, contains none of these things. The whole thing feels like a self-indulgent student film, going out of his way to point out how utterly cute and clever it's being, while unfortunately being neither. There's a moment towards the end of the film where Gerard Butler's character and two of his cohorts come on screen and look at the camera with cocky expressions, and we the audience are supposed to cheer at this moment on the merit of how much we just lurve the characters at that point. But unfortunately, I didn't love the characters. In fact, I couldn't be bothered to remember most of their names. So when they came into frame to stare at the audience with a "you know you love it" look on their faces, all I could do was roll my eyes.
Let's talk about characters for a moment. Ritchie's films have always had loads of colorful, interesting characters running around in them, and admittedly, it can be hard to keep track of them all on your first viewing, but actually caring about them goes a long way towards my ability to keep them all straight. This film had the usual array of more characters than you could shake a stick at, only the vast majority of them are given no moments to shine (like Jeremy Piven and Ludacris), merely moving from one scene to the next, being no more compelling than the furniture in the background. I have to wonder why Piven or Ludacris even bothered to appear in the film when they both have already successful careers, since neither of them was given a single line of dialog that was more juicy than whatever line "Clerk #2" may have had.
This time around, a "lucky painting" is the MacGuffin, and a nasty crime boss needs to retrieve it back after borrowing and losing it in order to successfully conclude a business deal. A rather simple idea, but one that has a lot of potential for humorous situations as the painting trades hands back and forth from one group to another. Except that's not really what happens, and the laughs in this movie are very, very few.
This movie is entirely too full of itself, and I sincerely hope that when I next watch Snatch or Lock Stock that my experience isn't ruined by noticing something unpleasant that was there all along, that only my British friends has previously detected. At the end, when the movie announced that all of these characters would return in RocknRolla 2, I could only roll my eyes and ask "Why??"
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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