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Case Number 21276: Small Claims Court

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Mob Rules

Lionsgate // 2010 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 4th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Pritchard, disdaining violence, only partakes in English standoffs, where the only weapon is superior linguistic skills.

The Charge

Revenge Has No Time.

The Case

Having been screwed out of the money they were owed from a botched heist over a decade ago, two London gangsters—Anton (Treva Etienne) and Tyrone (Gary McDonald)—head to America to track down their ex-partner, C-Note (Lennie James, Snatch). C-Note, who fled following the job, has built up a small criminal empire. With so many years passed, he little suspects his ex-partners would come after him or their share of the money. However, Anton and Tyrone have spent the intervening years planning their revenge down to the smallest detail, and have no intentions of backing down now. Adding to C-Note's woes are the cracks that begin appearing within his organization, and which threaten to leave him vulnerable.

Mob Rules is a competently made film. Everyone puts in solid performances, and writer/director Keith Parmer shows himself capable of handling a reasonably complex narrative. Parmer's screenplay sees the film play out over two different time lines simultaneously, which, in practice, means we learn the reasons behind Anton and Tyrone's revenge mission as they enact their plan. Forgetting any other flaws the film may have, this technique works well, as the viewer is clued into events in a piecemeal fashion, thus ensuring a little intrigue is maintained. Sadly, for most viewers the rest of Mob Rules will be a case of having seen it all before—and better, too.

The most immediately grating element of Mob Rules is its Tarantino/Ritchie-esque dialogue. Intentional or not, characters will often launch into lengthy conversations, and, much like the rest of the production, it's hard not to sense a little imitation going on. Being Parmer's debut feature this is forgivable—and let's be honest, neither of the two filmmakers I've mentioned are particularly original. An early fad for quoting Sheakspeare also comes over as gimmicky, rather than clever. Although the predilection for the bard does eventually pass, the problems with dialogue remain, and supposedly humorous exchanges over what to order in a diner, or an extended discussion on the use of the word "bitch," pale in comparison to the films Mob Rules will be compared to.

Despite lacking its comedy aspects, Mob Rules shares a sense of style and tone with Guy Ritchie's Snatch—something only strengthened by its soundtrack. Like Snatch, Mob Rules has a narrative that encompasses a large cast of characters, each with their own small roles to play. While this may help to keep the viewer on their toes, it also serves to overcomplicate mattes somewhat, as several characters really offer very little to the plot, and unlike Bullet Tooth Tony or Boris The Blade, the likes of Chilli (Tina Casciani) and Sal (Daniele Favilli) are less than memorable creations, lacking in both inspiration and charisma. This is made most evident when the film reaches its climax, and a mass Mexican standoff takes place. In reality, only four people realistically need be involved, but instead Parmer has a whole host of (often insignificant) characters turn up. The resulting shootout—played out in slow motion, complete with The Matrix-style bullet effects—is well shot, but really is lacking in excitement as too few of the participants have strong enough motivations for being there.

The central trio of Lennie James, Treva Etienne, and Gary McDonald stands out from the rest of the cast; this is primarily down to their having the most fleshed out characters, and the most clearly defined roles. The rest of the cast—though fine—are only given sketches of characters to work with, which limits how well they are able to project themselves.

Mob Rules is an uneven experience. The pacing is just about right, and the film's structure is good. The problems stem from a lack of originality, far too many paper-thin characters, and some ropey dialogue. Ultimately it is these negative factors that win out, and mean Mob Rules is best avoided.

Extras are limited to a series of interviews with the cast and crew. Parmer in particular makes for an enthusiastic talker, giving plenty of insight into his film. Listening to these interviews, it becomes evident how much the themes of revenge and redemption were so important to all involved. It's just a shame that these were not strong enough in the final product to raise Mob Rules above a crowded genre. A music video and trailer are also included.

Mob Rules is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. While blacks are solid, colors are intentionally muted; when combined with the fine level of grain (particularly during darker scenes), this lends the film a gritty aesthetic. The 5.1 soundtrack is predominantly front heavy, with crisp dialogue.

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 69

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Crime
• Drama
• Gangster
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Interviews
• Music Video
• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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