RocknRolla (2008) R 114min (blog)

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 26, 2008 | Publication: maximmovieblog.com | Author: Maxim
Publication/Article Link:http://www.maximovieblog.com/2008-10-26/rocknrolla-2008-r-114min-review

3.5 stars of 5

This is the first installment of director Guy Ritchie’s trilogy, also written by him.

The plot: When Russian mobster sets up a real-estate scam in London, all the underworld characters appear to get their share of the multi-million euro deal up for grabs. Some of those characters are small-time crooks like One-Two (Gerard Butler), Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), a scheming accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) and London’s big shot mobster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). But the prize winner is an unlikely hero - a rock star thought to be dead, but very much alive - the RocknRolla!

The good: the photography and editing are superb - five stars! My favorite scenes - a camera mounted on the barel of the rifle as it was being fired by the Russian mobster and you could see how the gun would see his face if it had eyes. The second was a 5-second sex scene - classical Guy Ritchie story telling by editing everything out down to essential images. The cast - also five stars. Tom Wilkinson is a fantastic actor - he’s amazing in every role. He should have received an Oscar long time ago, either for his role in Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or his role in Michael Clayton, or his role in John Adams. Thandie Newton was beautiful and seductive as always, even more so then in MI:2 or Crash. And what a change for her since playing Condoleezza Rise in W.! Great musical score. Funny chase scene.

Once again, like in Snatch, Ritchie has not one but two “damn cossacks” Russian muscle-men, who are apparently impossible to kill. They are a hillarious commical relief. Another funny sub-plot here in the web of double-crosses and deception was a gay crush of one of the side-kicks on One-Two (Gerard Buttler), a charming leader of a trio of thieves known as “The Wild Bunch” - executed with great chemistry.

There’s some dark symbolism in this movie. In one of the scenes Lenny is torchering some guy for information and makes a speech about American cray-fish that colonized London’s Themse river, and after eating all local cray-fish then began eating themselves. First of all - it’s a speech similar to the one by Bricktop in Snatch about feeding people to pigs. Secondly, it’s an alegory for what is happening the the London underworld as well - the environment has changed and the old-school methods no longer work, but in the end a thief is stealing from a thief.

The bad: the story is not easy to follow, and it’s not a great story and not a great story telling either. It was not clear why a braniac, a clever gangster like Lenny could fall for Russian mobster’s tricks - twice. First, it was obvious the Russian could not wait to hand the painting over to Lenny. Second, the Russian said he doesn’t drink - that should have raised an alarm! Too many shady characters to follow, many of them seem irrelevant. This movie is a bit too dark. Karel Roden played a convincing Russian mobster, but he seems to be stuck in the same role and I am tired of him playing the same character all the time. All Russians were fake in the movie - probably Eastern Slavs like Czechs or Serbs with almost incomprehencible Russian accent.

The summary: Clever and often funny. First class cinematography and editing. Great cast too. However, it’s a second class movie compared to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch, which were much much better in terms of story and script. Other then that, it’s a Guy Ritchie movie: expect great dialogs and photography.

p.s.
Considering Guy Ritchue’s unique style, I really want to see what shape and form will Sherlock Holmes take in his hands.