TIFF: RockNRolla

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: September 4, 2008 | Publication: Showcase.ca (E! Online) | Author: Goat Boy
Publication/Article Link:Showcase.ca

Guy Ritchie has had a few lean years as of late. His wife has assumed near Cher-like levels of past-prime popdom and his recent films have been clunkers to say the least.

But then, early this year Ritchie blew me away with his cocky, visually fresh Nike ad : Next Level. This seemed to be a sign of Ritchie reclaiming his cinematic and pop cultural verve. And Rocknrolla, his latest hard-edged, London underbelly caper comedy almost delivers the goods required to put him back on top.

It's safe to say the visual edge is there, with numerous camera tricks, percussive edits and high octane sequences slapping viewers across the face (with the back of the hand of course) more than enough to keep things interesting.

And there are some great performances from the likes of Gerard Butler (300) and Idris Elba (HBO's The Wire), main tough guys and plotters behind a low level criminal ring known as the Wild Bunch. These two and their pals, who are based out of a typically sleazy bookies office and crime friendly bar find themselves conveniently at the centre of a web of interconnected heists involving a few too many coincidences.

The primary crime boss is Lenny (played by Tom Wilkinson with cigar chomping vehemence); he's a fixer with deep connects at city council who keeps his thumb on ambitious up and comers like the Wild Bunch. He gets in a bit over his head when he makes some overly bold promises to a shady Russian billionaire who owns a football stadium and a lucky painting that becomes the films primary macguffin.

Thandie Newton plays the femme fatale, a posh accountant with her own criminal ambitions - she is drop dead sexy but her performance lacks personality. The titular Rocknrolla is played by Toby Kebbell, fresh from his role as a band manager in Control. He delivers the goods as missing-and-presumed dead rocker Johnny Quid, who is linked to pretty much all of the other characters thanks to his love of heroin and the seemier side of life. Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges are his managers, a pair of American music producers who really don't have much to do here but wear flashy trainers and look really nervous while dealing with the smorgasbord of thugs that clog Rocknrolla.

It doesn't all quite fit together as nicely as it should and in some scenes, the muscled up rock sound track fails to cover the uneven seams. But, there are some serious laughs, some great action scenes and of course, just when things start to get mired down, Ritchie's visual skills bitch slap the audience right back into the story. This is Ritchie's third best flick, right after Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Rocknrolla kicks real ass but at two hours long you can kind of feel your own ass going numb by the end credits.