‘RocknRolla’ will run you over
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 7, 2008 | Publication: msnbc.com | Author: Alonso Duralde
Fun gangster saga piles on characters, incidents until you're ready to drop.
To attempt to recap the plot of Guy Ritchie’s new film “RocknRolla” would probably require flashcards, a dry-erase board and PowerPoint; suffice it to say that while the movie never tires of adding more characters and plot twists to its runnething-over-cup, Ritchie brings enough flash and silliness to the proceedings to make it a fun, if exhausting, ride.
Gerard Butler stars as Mister One Two, a mid-level hood involved with sexy accountant Stella (Thandie Newton), who informs One Two when her employer, Russian mobster Uri (Karel Roden), is moving large sums of money so that One Two and his men can steal it and give her a cut.
Uri begins to suspect that the loot is actually being swiped by mobster Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), who’s trying to borrow the money from Uri for a real-estate scheme he’s cooking up with the help of The Councillor (Jimi Mistry). Not helping relations between Uri and Lenny is the fact that Uri loaned Lenny a lucky painting which was stolen by Lenny’s rock-star stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), who, in turn—
See? My head is already spinning, and we didn’t even get to the gay mobster, the subplot about the stool pigeon, the badass Russian henchmen, Johnny’s feckless American producers (Jeremy Piven and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges), Stella’s sham marriage, the crawfish torture, or the criminal with a weakness for Emma Thompson movies.
The “RocknRolla” experience is akin to watching those “Drunk History” clips on YouTube, where inebriated people try to explain the Louisiana Purchase despite the fact that they can barely complete a sentence. You try to keep up with it, amused at the very attempt at storytelling, but it gets exhausting. In both cases, however, there are enough laughs and shocks along the way to make the experience worthwhile.
Butler and Newton have an entertaining chemistry which Ritchie exploits to the fullest in two of the film’s best sequences — one involving rather ludicrous dancing, while the other is one of the most cut-to-the-chase sex scenes ever filmed. Butler’s moments with Mister One Two’s best mate Mumbles (Idris Elba) pack a droll zing as well.
I admittedly got a little skittish when a gay subplot reared up in this testosterone-soaked bloke epic, but writer-director Ritchie actually handles it with wit and smarts. Christopher Ciccone’s recent tell-all bestseller “Life with My Sister Madonna” suggests that Ritchie’s homophobia came between the author and his celebrated sibling, but this film could be used as evidence that it’s Christopher Ciccone, and not gays in general, whom Ritchie dislikes.
If it’s adrenaline, over-the-top violence and cheeky gangsters you’re after, “RocknRolla” definitely delivers. But don’t be shocked if you find yourself wanting some aspirins and a cold compress once it’s all over, especially when you note that the closing credits are already promising a sequel.