Hell of a guy: Ritchie's "RocknRolla set to impress"

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 8, 2008 | Publication: uweekly.com | Author: VR Bryant
Publication/Article Link:http://uweekly.com/newsmag/10-08-2008/9363

It's been ten years since "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" eight since "Snatch." In the interim, we've gotten the average "Revolver" and the very-unfortunate-for-all-involved "Swept Away."

Yet, in spite of the relative slump, British movie mastermind Guy Ritchie remains one of the more intriguing box office draws.

Part of it is the allure of the writer-director mystique, knowing that there's no disconnect between the original story and the visual realization. Part of it is the fact that "Lock, Stock" and "Snatch" were so slick and still so memorable. And, realistically, part of it is that being married to Madonna helps keep you in the spotlight.

On the horizon is his (hopefully) triumphant return to the genre he helped create: that of the super-stylized, British-underworld caper film. This one, with the punctuation-starved title "RocknRolla, is not the story of antique muskets, truckfuls of marijuana or wayward fist-sized diamonds, yet at a glance appears to be parallel in execution to its predecessors.

The plot, in the most basic terms, is a big chunk of money generated from a Russian real estate scam that finds itself up for grabs to the guys wise to the deal. As ever, in Ritchie's world, the seamy underbelly sports only the hippest of cats with names like Johnny Quid, Mumbles and Mr. One-Two.

The cast is a pleasing mix of intriguing not-quite-superstars and very recognizable names. No Brad Pitts or Benicio Del Toros in this one, but Gerard Butler ("300"), Thandie Newton ("Crash") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton") are no slouches. Throw in roles for perennial Emmy-winner Jeremy Piven and rapper Ludacris (AKA Chris Bridges), and you've at least got the potential for something cool.

So, regardless of the somewhat formulaic nature of Ritchie's films (lots of guns, plenty of hands hitting faces and enough snappy British dialogue to choke a horse), this one has plenty of appeal. I mean really who really cares if Ritchie is a one-trick pony, so long as that one trick is really good?

"RocknRolla" gets a limited US release in New York and Los Angeles today, Oct.8; everyone else will have to wait for Halloween Friday. More's the pity.