Sunday, 28 August 2011
I'm so glad my prejudice against Guy Ritchie gets to stay intact, because this is surely one of the worst films I've ever seen. At first I really did want to give this film the time of day, but after 10 minutes I quickly realised this was his usual fare, only amplified and worse, itself carrying some ugly prejudice of its own. It manages to bounce racism and homophobia for (non-existent) laughs through Tom Hardy's coming-out-scene and a copious and nonchalant use of the word 'immigrant' in pretty much every scene with Tom Wilkinson, who pantomimes his way through every scene as a hammy sub Bob Hoskins cockney gangster, and subsequently becomes an unintentional parody of a character type we've seen many tedious times before. I like Tom Wilkinson, but I must admit he gives way at times to chewing scenery - just see his performance in the risible television series 'The Kennedys' for recent reference. But with RocknRolla the dialogue is so excruciatingly contrived there's not much more to work with than self-parody. Ritchie's insistence on dividing the English language into Cockney and not is the funny thing about the film, along with his supposedly original idea of having a painfully unsubtle Roman Abramovich clone move in on his territory as a play on the possibility of Russian gangsters moving in on London gangster territory. And the final seal that we're watching a dreadful comedy is the idea that the Abramovich clone gets into a mob war with Wilkinson's goons over a missing painting, commandeered by Toby Kebbel's titular RocknRolla, Johnny Quid. Frankly, it doesn't get sillier than that. Performances hit the usual one note Ritchie demands, i.e., wisecracking Cockney hostility, although Tom Hardy, Toby Kebbel and Mark Strong do the best they can.