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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Rancid Aluminum
Rancid Aluminum
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // April 9, 2002
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Dvdempire]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 15, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Rancid Aluminium -- dropping a letter for its release stateside –- is another in a long line of imported British gangster flicks, joining the ranks of Circus, Love, Honor, and Obey, Gangster No. 1, and, of course, Guy Ritchie's Snatch (hey, stop giggling!) and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. I've only seen half of those films, and after forcing myself to sit through Rancid Aluminum, I have to admit that any inclination I would've had to do so has been completely and utterly shattered.

Joseph Fiennes of Shakespeare In Love fame slums as Sean Deeny, the bookkeeper for a company on the brink of bankruptcy, owing hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxes. Dim-witted Pete Thompson (Rhys Ifans) inherits the company when his father dies, as wholly unprepared for the responsibility that entails as he is unable to conceive a child with his wife Sarah (Sadie Frost). Sean seethes at being passed over for the inheritance, and he cobbles together a scheme to accomplish two necessary goals. By setting Pete up with the Russian mafia, the back taxes could easily be paid, and Sean could be set up to take a fall, leaving the company in his able hands. Pete becomes a favorite plaything for the eccentric Russians, especially the head honcho's daughter Masha (Tara Fitzgerald). It seems as if every female within 3,000 miles is sleeping with Pete at one point or another, and every male wants him dead.

If I could were to select a single word to describe Rancid Aluminum, it would probably be "unengaging". Well-developed, intriguing characters can capture my attention in an otherwise drab movies. The same goes for particularly skilled writing, compelling performances, or an inventive premise. Rancid Aluminum is sorely lacking any of those saving graces. The novel by James Hawes appears to be well liked enough, but apparently whatever endeared it to so many British readers didn't translate to the silver screen. I can't be totally down on Rancid Aluminum. If movies like this didn't bore me to tears and compel me to seek out any other conceivable way to pass the time, my apartment would never get cleaned.

There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason for the proceedings, particularly why so many women fall for the rather unremarkable looking and hardly upward-bound Pete. I don't have many requirements for the movies I watch (obviously), but I'm really not interested in flicks where a lead character masturbates on-screen. Sure, Pete has his back to the camera, but still…yikes. No amount of nudity can compensate for that, though Rancid Aluminum does give it a shot with its fair share of nekkidness. The plotting is scattershot, and the random way in which events occur drags the pacing down to a crawl. I don't really get why the Russians would be willing to turn over so much money with little more to go on than a bunch of Stupid Human Tricks. It's really just not very good at all.

Gangster No. 1 hit theaters in a limited release across the United States on the same night I watched Rancid Aluminum, and the Malcolm McDowell vehicle is a far more appealing entry in the genre. Rancid Aluminum is as limp and lifeless as its impotent hero, and I wouldn't recommend to anyone but those with both an insatiable appetite for these sorts of films and undiscerning tastes.

Video: Hey, a plain-jane letterboxed presentation! If the calendar in Windows didn't offer such a convenient reminder, I'd have forgotten that this is 2002, not those early months in 1997 when the first wave of DVDs swept across the nation. Tiny one and two man DVD operations are able to churn out quality anamorphic widescreen discs. Why an organization with the resources of Lion's Gate is seemingly unable to provide that same sort of consistency is beyond me.

That rant aside, the 1.85:1 image is fine, in line with a transfer of a recent low-budget effort. The source material is in respectable shape, though a couple of specks rear their head intermittently. The light film grain present was likely a conscious stylistic decision, and color saturation and fleshtones appear to be in the right ballpark. Interestingly enough, the film seemed to look better as it went on, and the grain in particular became much less noticeable somewhere around the 30 to 45 minute mark. The non-anamorphic presentation of Rancid Aluminum is rather run of the mill for this sort of material, but 'average' in the DVD game anymore is still nothing to scoff at.

Audio: The Dolby stereo surround track isn't any more remarkable than the video. Though there are frequently opportunities for some nice low-end action, particularly fist-fights and gunplay, bass response is rather anemic. Loud bouts of laughter and screams often sound strained, and there's an out-of-place echo around the 48:48 mark. Looped dialogue is rampant throughout the film. Perhaps Tara Fitzgerald's stab at a Russian accent on the set didn't come through as intended during post-production. The accents aren't so thick as to be completely unintelligible, but subtitles are available in English and Spanish in case anyone has a tough time and happens to care.

Supplements: Highlighting the Lion's Gate logo turns up full-frame trailers for Rancid Aluminum, Fast Sofa, and Tape. That's the same batch of trailers as on the Fast Sofa DVD, incidentally.

Conclusion: Pretend I found some witty way to relate the first word of the film's title to express my distaste for Rancid Aluminum. Fans of the British gangster genre may want to give it a rental, but I wouldn't recommend this DVD as a purchase sight-unseen. Rent It.
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