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|Rollin With the Nines|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Julian Gilbey|
scr Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey
with Vas Blackwood, Robbie Gee, Naomi Taylor, Roffem Morgan, Terry Stone, Simon Webbe, Jason Flemyng, Billy Murray, Patrick Regis, Kingsley Pilgrim, Dominic Alan-Smith, George Calil
release UK 21.Apr.06
Cops and robbers: Morgan, Taylor and Blackwood (above); Stone (with the bat, below).
Best British feature:
This claims to be the first true film depiction of the South London crime world. So why is it so full of cinematic cliches, stereotypical characters and convenient plot points? It's certainly lively and energetic, and there are some very good performances, but it's rather hard going.
The urban London rap group Time Served--leader Finny (Blackwood), pretty boy Too Fine (Webbe) and young hothead Rage (Morgan)--is about to hit the big time. But Too Fine has some serious unpaid debts, and he and his sister Hope (Taylor) are attacked by a vicious mob thug (Regis). The vengeful Hope, along with Finny, Rage and their friend Pushy (Gee), take over Too Fine's drug dealing operation. But there's trouble brewing in gangland. And a tenacious, dirty cop (Stone) on their trail.
There is a level of dark edginess here that we don't often see in British crime movies. Director-cowriter Gilbey avoids the humour and irony of this genre, focussing instead on raw, tough violence. And it's so brutal that after two hours of beatings, shootings, stabbing and rape, you feel like you need post traumatic stress counselling.
That said, the film isn't as original as it claims to be. Characters are standard movie figures, from Pilgrim's jittery informant and Regis' arrogant thug to Flemyng's grouchy captain and Murray's ice-cool gangster. Where it gets more interesting is in the moral dilemmas faced by Hope and Finny, beautifully played by Taylor and Blackwood as people forced into difficult decisions in unthinkably nasty circumstances. Morgan also makes a strong film debut as the cocky kid who just doesn't seem to grasp the gravity of the situation.
In the end, the film is unlikely to appeal to anyone outside the Brixton hip-hop crowd. It's simply too chaotic, never taking time to deepen the characters, expand the relationships or flesh out the storyline. It's visually thrilling, but the incessant gunplay is way over the top; the title refers to 9mm handguns, but most of these cops and criminals carry automatic weapons and fire them like American action movie characters, not people on the streets of London.
MATT, tottenham: "in regards to the review given, it will appeal to more than just the 'brixton hip hop crowd'. Fair enough it does have violence but when you see the calibre of actors they have some people will be surprised. It will appeal to some people who have lived around some of the dilemas shown." (19.Apr.06)
Barbara Ansell-Simms, Haringey, London: "The film depicted a true insight of today's gun and crime culture, it should appeal to all that want to understand the recent rise in gun crime and drug related crime, no matter where you live, it could be happening in your street or immediate neighbourhood. Rollin is portrayed by very good actors and situations. The film should be on general release for all young people to really think about the whole glamourisation of drugs, guns and eventual death and what influence some of the police really have in the whole the game/scene." (15.May.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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