Tag Archives: action

RocknRolla

I went to see RocknRolla yesterday with fairly low expectations, which were partly fulfilled and partly exceeded. Though on the whole, I found the movie unsatisfying, it was stylish and pleasing to the eye; and had just enough humourous moments to keep me from nodding off altogether.

The biggest problem with the film is its beginning, which was overly loaded with exposition and took about as long to get started as a bomby car in a horror movie. Probably the entire first half hour of the film was devoted to tediously introducing the various characters one by one, without much of interest occurring at all.

The second problem was the plot, which, though conceivably attractive in synopsis, didn’t really go anywhere. Too much seemed to be going on, but not in a good way (if I may put it that simply). There were many threads to the storyline, all interacting, but because this was poorly executed, the result was lacklustre and at times confusing. The plot centres around a deal between a shady London mobster and a Roman Abramovich clone (down to the football stadium); and the involvement of other criminals, junkies and miscellaneous ne’er-do-wells with the deal and the criminal underworld, united by a McGuffin in the form of the Russian businessman’s “lucky painting”.

Though this may sound good in concept, it was poorly translated to a film of just under two hours (but one which seemed a lot longer). Though a great fan of multi-thread storylines which demand the complete attention of the viewer (i.e. Pulp Fiction, 21 Grams), this particular one could not pique my interest and thus, for me, failed with respect to its plot. This could perhaps be excused if the characters were interesting or developed in some creative fashion, but unfortunately, this aspect of the film was also lacking. Though the film featured a large and varied cast of characters, they remained through its duration rather one-dimensional and uncompelling. In addition, the dialogue was often unconvincing or pretentious.

One redeeming feature of the film was its visual appeal, being gritty and stylized. At least this aspect of directing was carried out well, with a variety of colourful settings, decent cinematography and stylish costumes. Another positive was the humour throughout the film, which was, admittedly, quite funny and well-done (less amusing was the raucous laughter of the person of indeterminate gender about rows in front of me). Particularly funny was the slow-dance scene and the seemingly invincible Russian thugs.

However, for a film primarily about violent gangsters and with an MA rating (in Australia, R in America), there seemed to be a conspicuously low level of violence and mostly concentrated in the latter half of the film, as if inserted as an afterthought. Perhaps it was my fault for expecting more action in the film, but I felt that a touch more excitement would engaged the viewers more, given the lack of engaging characters and compelling storyline. This grievance of mine is perhaps best summarised by critic David Stratton, who says:

“Scenes of violence are downplayed in ROCKNROLLA, which may disappoint Ritchie fans. The trouble is that nothing all that interesting replaces them”

One particularly (for me) cringeworthy aspect of the film was the awful Russian accents of some of the actors, which detracted from the appeal of their characters. In addition, the subtitling of the Russian dialogue sometimes seemed quite bizarre, as in one scene where one character said “I don’t like her” in Russian, but the subtitles read “Hand me my gloves”.

All in all, RocknRolla was not a terrible film. It was not even a completely boring film, but nonetheless it was less than satisfying. Its undeniable visual appeal did not make up for what was an essentially confusing and flat storyline. It seemed as though the director brainstormed as many interesting ideas for a film of the gangster genre as possible and then failed in putting them into a successful and coherent whole. Perhaps one main reason for my largely negative response to it was its first half, which actually had me wishing for the film’s conclusion. However, the second half was more interesting, and the humour and wit were well-done. Despite a good deal of “cool”, some quite enjoyable scenes and a decent soundtrack, my overall impression of the film was lukewarm. 3 stars.

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Filed under 3 stars, film, review, Uncategorized

Jumper

I thought I may as well include negative reviews along with the positive reviews on this blog, just to give a bit of balance and perspective. Because if you mention what isn’t so good, that which is good seems better. It’s all relative, really.

Easily the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen for ages (with the exception of movies that go out of their way to be ridiculous, such as the Scary Movie franchise), Jumper is the story of a guy who discovers that he has the ability to “jump” through space, to teleport. After running away from his deadbeat dad and sleepy town to New York, David makes a living by getting through doors without having to open them.

However, things go wrong when his carefree life of disobeying various physical and federal laws is interrupted by the arrival of a strangely-clad Samuel L Jackson, who belongs to some secretive religious order that holds a grudge against teleporters (suddenly, fanatical religious assassins seem all the rage…). In short, the film goes: bad guy goes after good guy, good guy is too quick, bad guy is temporarily foiled, good guy gets a girlfriend, bad guy goes after the girlfriend, yadda yadda yadda, his estranged mother is part of said religious order (WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?!)

I can’t even be bothered explaining the plot, which is absolutely ridiculous. The main redeeming feature of the film (“redeeming” as in I didn’t give it zero stars) are the special effects, which seem to be the main premise of the film. The biggest appeal of the film is the visual aspect: that the character can teleport from New York to Cairo to London to Rome, etc…, but the special effects upon which the movie is primarily based get boring after a while: after all, we’ve seen them in other films that actually had a plotline.

The film tries to be more exciting by bringing in the whole idea of the religious order going against these “jumpers”, but that is never developed; neither, unfortunately, are the characters. The action in the film is good enough and one scene involving some dangerous car driving/teleporting in the streets of Tokyo is probably the most interesting scene in the film, but the ending is a massive anti-climax (you’d think in a ridiculous action flick, you could at least get the ending right!) which attempts some sort of moral vindication of the protagonist. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t want him to be a “goodie” but to kick the bad guy’s ass!

The consensus review on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty much spot-on: “Featuring uninvolving characters and loose narrative, Jumper is an erratic action pic with little coherence and lackluster special effects”. 16% of critics gave it a thumbs up and their average rating was 4/10. I’ll have to agree with that. 2 stars.

Trailer for the film:

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Filed under 2 stars, film, review