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Guy Ritchie
Tom Wilkinson, Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven, Chris Bridges, Karel Roden
Writing Credits:
Guy Ritchie

“I own this town.” But owning is getting expensive for old-school London gangster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). A wealthier foreign mob is moving in with a riverfront property swindle. A small-timer (Gerard Butler) and his crew think they can play both sides and become big time. Now add a hard-as-ice accountant (Thandie Newton), a rocker playing dead to boost sales, wannabe music moguls (Jeremy Piven and Chris Bridges), a missing painting and a mad mosh of money and muscle, and youve got this funny, smash-mouth smackdown of sex, thugs & rock 'n roll from writer/director Guy Ritchie.

Box Office:
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$144.701 thousand on 7 screens.
Domestic Gross
$5.694 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 1/27/2009

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Guy Ritchie and Actor Mark Strong
• “Guy’s Town” Featurette
• Deleted Scene
• Digital Copy
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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RocknRolla: Special Edition (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 20, 2009)

Now that his days as “Mr. Madonna” are officially behind him, it’ll be interesting to see where Guy Ritchie’s filmmaking career takes him. 2008’s RocknRolla came out after their split, but it stands as his final project during his Madonna years – and a throwback to his pre-Madonna style.

In RocknRolla, we meet Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), a London gangster who runs a racket related to much of the area’s real estate. When lowlifes One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) try to get involved in property investments, Cole uses his connections to scotch the deal and leave them in debt to him.

That ain’t good, so One Two and Mumbles need a way to raise cash. Prim accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) runs in with this rough crowd to do her dirty work, so One Two and Mumbles sense a way to get out of their financial troubles. They steal the money a Russian entrepreneur (Karel Roden) intends to use in a deal with Lenny, essentially ensuring that they’ll pay Lenny with his own funds.

Unsurprisingly, problems ensue. One Two finds himself in the midst of a mix of snarls. A stolen painting – loaned to Lenny by the Russian – also adds complexities to the action as we follow all the complications.

Indeed, I’m tempted to refer to RocknRolla as a series of complications in search of a plot. Oh, an overriding story does exist, I suppose, as the film attempts to explore the lives of the real estate gangsters, and that’s an unusual focus. Usually flicks about criminals stick with drugs and whatnot, so the look at gangsters as real estate moguls offers a neat twist.

But is it enough? Nope. RocknRolla doesn’t wear its twists and snarls on its sleeve, so it’s not a flick that relies on crazy left-turns to tell its tale. Some movies feel like they exist solely to provide a compilation of wacky shifts, but I don’t get that impression here.

Unfortunately, I don’t find much in RocknRolla to maintain my interest. While it manages to make its twists feel fairly organic, it still comes across as a rather disjointed piece. I realize that sounds contradictory, but it’s what I see. No, the flick doesn’t toss gratuitous shifts at us just for shock value, but the end product simply doesn’t coalesce very well.

And it feels rather forced in the way it makes sure its disparate characters ultimately connect with each other. Some movies can tie together their different roles in a clever, convincing manner, but that doesn’t occur here. Instead, the participants cohere without much real rhyme or reason. I kind of buy their connections, but I still don’t think this side fits together in a compelling manner.

A lot of this feels artificial. At its heart, I don’t think RocknRolla provides a particularly complex story. However, it takes its basic plot and goes out of its way to complicate things. Maybe it does this to add a layer of cleverness, or maybe Ritchie thinks the disjointed telling makes the movie richer.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t work. RocknRolla doesn’t provide a bad movie, as it has enough energy and sizzle to keep me mildly involved. However, it just never becomes anything more compelling than that. Basically it takes some semi-colorful characters and sends them on various journeys all in the service of… I’m not sure what. There’s a lot of noise and action here without a great deal to make it memorable.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

RocknRolla appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although many recent Warner Bros. transfers have proved lacking, this one looked great.

At all times, sharpness satisfied. Even in the movie’s wide shots, the image remained crisp and well-defined. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and I found no signs of edge enhancement either. I expected a clean transfer, and I got one via this defect-free presentation; not a speck, mark or blemish appeared. I saw a little grain in some dark interiors, but nothing major came along for the ride.

RocknRolla featured a limited palette that went with a copper tint much of the time. This meant brighter hues were few and far between, as it stayed quite restrained. Within those parameters, the colors looked fine. Blacks were deep and dark, and shadows showed nice clarity and smoothness. I thought the image worked very well from start to finish.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of RocknRolla worked reasonably well, though it didn’t provide a broad enough soundfield to merit more than a “B”. The track showed good stereo spread throughout the movie, and the forward channels offered a nice sense of atmosphere. Elements blended well and moved smoothly across the front spectrum. As for the surrounds, they contributed moderate reinforcement of the front elements and only sporadically provided unique information. They brought some life to the package but didn’t do much to excel.

Audio quality appeared fine. The lines remained natural and distinct, and they showed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility – well, no issues unrelated to the many heavy accents. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and they displayed no distortion. Music also seemed vibrant and robust with deep and rich low-end. In the end, the track lacked the sonic ambition to earn a high grade, but RocknRolla still provided a quality auditory experience.

Only a few extras pop up here. We begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Guy Ritchie and actor Mark Strong. They sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story subjects and inspirations, cast and performances, cinematography and editing, sets and locations, music, and a few other production subjects.

I like the fact that Ritchie and Strong don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, but I don’t think they provide an especially memorable track. A few fun remarks appear, such as when we learn that Chris “Ludacris” Bridges carried porn mags devoted to big butts with him – but the majority of the info seems pretty ordinary. In addition, the piece peters out pretty badly during its second half, especially when Ritchie does little more than quote the flick’s dialogue. We learn a smattering of decent details about the production but we don’t get many real insights.

By the way, the pair clearly recorded the commentary before Ritchie’s split from Madonna in October 2008. Ritchie refers to “the missus” in the track but not in an acrimonious way, so I guess he didn’t expect that they’d be finished as a couple when the DVD hit the streets.

A featurette called Guy’s Town runs eight minutes, 32 seconds. We find notes from Ritchie, Strong, producer Steve Clark-Hall, cinematographer David Higgs, location manager Claire Tovey, production designer Richard Bridgland, and actors Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson, and Gerard Butler. “Town” takes a look at London and its portrayal in the film. The show zips by way too quickly to offer much depth, but it throws in some nice facts about the flick’s various locations.

Next we find one deleted scene. “Will You Put That Cigarette Out?” lasts one minute, 59 seconds and shows a chat among One Two, Mumbles and Handsome Bob as the play a caper. It simply adds a little unnecessary exposition.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for the Project Origin videogame, Pride and Glory, Watchmen, Blu-Ray Disc and Body of Lies. No trailer for RocknRolla appears here.

Finally, DVD Two includes a Digital Copy of RocknRolla. It seems like every DVD provides this option these days; it allows you to easily transfer the flick to a portable device. I have no use for it, but I guess someone must dig it.

At times, RocknRolla offers shows potential to become a dynamic gangster adventure. However, it never sustains its minor highs to keep our attention on a consistent basis. The whole feels like less than the sum of its parts, as the movie never quite kicks into higher gear. The DVD provides excellent picture quality, good audio, and a few decent extras. RocknRolla isn’t a bad film, but it’s not particularly memorable, either.

Note that a single-disc version of RocknRolla also can be found. It simply drops the digital copy and retails for $7 less than this set.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.625 Stars Number of Votes: 8
0 3:
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