Guy Ritchie's 'RocknRolla' is an out of body experience. It's a spectacular film, filled with dark, macabre humor and excellent cinematography by David Higgs. There's only one point in the film that resorts to SCS(shaky camera syndrome) and it does so ingeniously and with a purpose. Other action thrillers could learn a lesson from this film.
The characters are flawlessly interwoven through the story by a hilarious voice-over performance from the character Archie(Mark Strong) who gets a surprisingly low amount of screen time. For the first time in a long while, a writer has written a narration that works. Writers think that the narration is supposed to tell the story. That is not true. The audience doesn't need the narration to tell the story. What the narration should do is observe the story, and this one does so brilliantly. The action tells the story, the narration observes the story, and the dialogue reveals the characters. That's how a film should be made, and that's how this one is.
I'm not going to bother telling you the story. Along with 'Burn After Reading', it's a story that wacked out and crazy. Everybody thinks they know what's going on, when they really don't. The Coen Brothers(no offense to Ritchie) are better filmmakers, but this film has been written and acted flawlessly(even if there could be improvement in music and narrative - narrative is not the same thing as narration, keep in mind). Tom Wilkinson does a particularly good job as the crime boss for the Old School, Gerard Butler is hilarious in his bi-curious role. He is part of The Wild Bunch. There's also Thandie Newton as Stella, the manipulator, and various other great performances.
If you look at the image at the top of the review, you will see the visual freshness the film supplies. Not just in the angles chosen, but in the costumes, sets, and make-up. It's clear that everything was planned out to perfection, and it certainly shows. No big special effects either, thank God. I think we're getting back to a place in film where filmmakers are finding more creative ways to create an effect, and we can see that here.
Some people may be hard on the film, but consider this: If a movie has dialogue that as fresh and new as the morning dew, and acting that can't be topped, and a complex story line that truly makes you think, beautiful camera work, and marvelous images, why should you pan it? Because it's violent? Hmm. Read my review of 'A Clockwork Orange' to find out what I think about violence in the movies. As for this one, I can't recommend it enough. A totally engaging and emersive experience.