Movie Review: RockNRolla
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 23, 2008 | Publication: Box Office Prophets | Author: Brandon Scott
Those who thought the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels- and Snatch-era Guy Ritchie was Swept Away and never to be seen again (mostly Madonna haters) can breathe a pleasant sigh of relief. RockNRolla marks a return to form for the kinetic writer-director. This efficiently-paced and suspenseful actioner has it all, including an eclectic cast, a script steeped in mystery and wry humor, and cutting-edge direction.
Explaining the plot might be an exercise in futility as there is always more there than what we hear from the characters. Things are set in motion when a wealthy Russian mobster comes to London with a real estate scam that could generate millions of British pounds. This attracts the attention of numerous members from London's criminal underworld who all hope to claim their own piece of the pie. From Tom Wilkinson's sinister Lenny Cole (playing similar to his Batman Begins character) to the Wild Bunch's, One-Two (300's Gerard Butler) and his partner in crime, Mumbles (The Wire's Idris Elba), there are tons of names ready to reach for the stash. Needless to say, it's never easy to know who has the most power in this type of caper. Oftentimes, it's not who you think it might be.
The cast is excellent all the way around. Thandie Newton's Stella is a corrupt accountant for the Russian mobster, farming out work to One Two and his crew. A chemistry develops as they shakily figure out how trustworthy they are to each other. Relative unknown and bright spot Tony Kebbell is junkie and rocker Johnny Quid, who holds a grudge against his step-father Cole. Mark Strong does his name proud, making a strong impression as Archie, Cole's right hand man. These are vibrant and lively performances for the most part.
This is still an action film through and through. The frenetic pace in one never-ending sequence in particular is classic Ritchie. Vicious Russian hitmen chase the Wild Bunch on the streets and into a tunnel. Ritchie is at ease here deploying camera techniques that are both funny and gripping at the same time. The action in Lock, Stock and Snatch has nothing on this scene. Ritchie's new London may not be as dark as some of his previous iterations but it still has just as much depth.