The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 115 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 2.4:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese
Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Jeremy Piven, Chris Bridges
Written & Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 27, 2009
"A story of SEX, THUGS, and ROCK ’N’ ROLL"
“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 smack down of sex thugs & rock-n-roll from writer/director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch).
I consider myself fortunate. I love movies and I am in a position where I receive quite a bit of exposure to them. There are times where I have to sit through uninspiring films that border on drivel. On the other hand I find that every now and then I come across a film that I have never heard of that turns out to be quite good. RocknRolla is just such a movie. It has a cast that is chock full of wonderfully entertaining characters, smart/witty dialogue, and slick direction. Writer/Director Guy Ritchie does a great job with the establishment of the characters and the straight forward telling of the story. His direction keeps things on point nicely and the blend of action, drama, and humor is well balanced so that there is plenty to go around. Lenny Cole (Wilkinson) runs things in London and does so through his contacts in the local government that controls both the court system and local real estate planning boards. He enters into an agreement with a Russian mobster named Uri, regarding a payoff to obtain the permits necessary to complete a rather expensive building venture in London. There is a local gang of small time crooks who are looking to branch out and expand. The problem is that they owe Lenny “2 large” and need to find a way to come up with the cash or else. These three entities represent the film’s primary focal point. However there are several others who play an integral role in spinning the story. There is the beautiful and very capable accountant (Newton) that handles the Russian’s finances, and the rock n roll crack head who occasionally fakes his own death to spark his music sales. These two ignite the fuse on each end of the powder keg which results in a three way detonation that erupts in gunfire, treachery, and retribution.
Tom Wilkinson steals the show as the London crime boss Lenny Cole. He is a gifted actor who seems so diverse that every character he plays feels fresh. Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, and Tom Hardy (One Two, Mumbles, and Handsome Bob) are the three small time hoods who are in debt to Lenny and are looking for a means to score some cash. Gerard Butler might be the recognizable name among that group but both Elba and Hardy were perfectly cast while Butler didn’t really standout. The British dialect was sometimes hard to understand but this was more so the case with Butler. To me he would have been better suited with the character name Mumbles. The story is told by Archie (Strong) Lenny’s number two in command. His view on the situation is conveyed via narration and provides a global perspective on the situation. In my opinion the charming aspects of this film lie in the intelligent and sometimes laugh out loud dialogue as well as the dialect used in its presentation. The story comes full circle in a satisfying turn of events that is ultimately rewarding. Kudos to Guy Ritchie because I thought this film well done and lots of fun.
The rating is for pervasive language, violence, drug use and brief sexuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
RockNRolla comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2 mbps.
This film has a distinctive visual style that utilizes a light sepia toned chromatic that permeates the images onscreen. This left colors and skin tones appearing muted and devoid of natural looking hues and tonal saturation. Actually I didn’t find that it was distasteful in any way and appreciated the fact that the director maintained it over the length of the film which gave it more consistency. Blacks were average looking which didn’t provide a good sense of depth during darker scenes. Detail in dark backgrounds and low lighting was appreciable but not as definitive as the best that I have seen. Resolution and detail were distinguishable however I noted that the video lacked the subtle delineation and defining sharpness to give it the three dimensional high definition clarity associated with the better releases available on Blu-ray. The lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was well designed and sounded great. A large portion of the film is dialogue driven however as things escalate the soundtrack kicks in with hearty dynamics and clean, deep bass extension. Dialogue is placed firmly in the center channel and is easily discernible even during the active onscreen moments. The primary focus is retained up front with excellent channel integration that enhances the sound and panning effects that traverse the left, center and right speakers. Sounds mixed to the rear channels are well balanced and engaging which provides a good sense of depth when the action kicks in.
- Behind the story: Commentary by Guy Ritchie and Mark Strong
- (HD) Blokes, Birds, and Backhanders: Inside Rock-n-Rolla – 15 minute making of feature
- (HD) Guy’s Town – 8 minute production feature
- 1 deleted scene – “Will you put the cigarette out?”
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc – A standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable playback device
RockNRolla was a pleasant surprise and features a good blend of intelligent writing, slick direction, and excellent casting. The result is an entertaining film that flows nicely and provides some laughs, a little action and a bit of a twist that make it an easy and fun watch. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc comes day and date with the DVD and offers good high definition video quality and better lossless Dolby TrueHD surround sound. The bonus features are just average in quality but include two short features that are offered in high definition.
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