17 January, 2011
It's good to see after the turgid, self-indulgent whatever-the-fuck-that-was of Revolver, the hideously unfunny Swept Away, and the pointless, cash-grab that was Rock n' Rolla, Guy Richie decided to make a movie again.
And, you know what? It's pretty good.
It's a fairly average tab-A into slot-B mystery-romp, where it differentiates itself from what would have been a run of the mill thriller is that it is set in Victorian London, which is always a fun place to look at (also a place more needing of shampoo than maybe even the city of Deadwood). On paper the treatment sounds like a turkey receipe, thankfully the reality is that, like so many films, it works much better in motion than it does as a static idea.
Plus, it reminds me of the Guy Richie I spent my junior high years obsessing about. In this movie, he's the fun Guy Richie that's full of camera tricks and Jason Statham and not the Thing That Married Madonna. Even though I like the slow, brooding London of a Masterpiece Theater episode, it's fun to see it handled like a high budget action blockbuster or a music video instead of a reassuring period piece engineered to lull dowagers into hibernation. It's a pleasant novelty, which is what a blockbuster like this should be, I guess, if nothing else. I love that time period and I love those aesthetics, so if only for that, I dug this movie.
Moving swiftly along, I want to talk about the guns in this movie, because, boy, this movie has some guns in it. While the whole of the movie doesn't really hold up as a collection of idiosyncrasies as I would like it to, it's got quite a few-- the first being the Victorian setting, the second being antique firearms, and the third being a drugged up bulldog named after a British general that fought in the First Anglo-Afghan War, which is a fixation I didn't know that I had until now.
And for fun, let us revel in Guy Richie's failures:
(As I understand it, when Revolver was coming out, Guy Richie said that he wasn't going to make anymore crime movies like Snatch or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and that he was only going to make bizarre, intellectual, art-housey films like this instead. Well, I think we all know what happened with that. Looking at it now it strikes me as an artist going as far as he possibly can with his talent, which is noble in its own way. In that way it also reminds me of Magnolia. Take with some salt, if you get the chance.)
And now, once more, with feeling: