FILM ROUNDUP: It’s great to relate that there’s an umissable British film
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 1, 2008 | Publication: Tribune | Author: Neil Young
Although it has been hailed as a partial return to form after the disastrous reception accorded to Revolver and Swept Away, Rocknrolla seems unlikely to re-float Guy Ritchie’s reputation back to the levels he enjoyed after Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). It’s a predictably slick, and flashy thriller with comic overtones set in present-day London, which competently but unexcitingly recycles ideas and scenes from a sub-genre that dates back to The Long Good Friday.
In a sprawling, nearly all-male ensemble, first among equals is Gerrard Butler as the enigmatically-monikered One Two, a genially bluff Scots hard-nut who gets involved in messy underworld dealings with the capital’s long-time Mr Big, Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). This entanglement occurs just as the latter, who prides himself on his “old school” ways, is in danger of losing top-dog status to a ruthless Russian billionaire (Karel Roden). A priceless painting which changes hands numerous times provides what passes for a McGuffin and there’s a sub-plot involving the identity of a police informer which also fails to pull its narrative weight.
Rocknrolla is too often content to swagger through the same old gangster-geezer motions as earlier Ritchie efforts. Not quite violent or hip enough for modern sensation-hungry younger audiences, it is also insufficiently funny, sharp or distinctive to satisfy more mature viewers. Butler is solidly charismatic, but neither he nor a strong supporting cast are ever given much to sink their teeth into. Toby Kebbell is the exception as renegade rock star Johnny Quid, who turns out to be rather less “street” than his public image suggests. Educated at a public school, he is perhaps intended as a self-deprecating self-portrait by the director whose famously posh background and fascination with East End seediness has made him a figure of fun in some quarters.