Movie review: 'Rocknrolla' - A shot at criminal behavior

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 30, 2008 | Publication: Cleveland Sun News | Author: John M. Urbancich
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In "RocknRolla," writer/director Guy Ritchie is quick to show everyone how easily British movie exports have changed with some early shots from 1993's classy "The Remains of the Day." Of course, Ritchie's latest is pretty much derivative of his own "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," though not necessarily better than either.

In fact, "RocknRolla" strains mightily to set up its complicated story in an almost incoherent first half. Then, it comes on strong with an all-star cast offering laughs, mostly cartoonish violence and some obvious nods to "Pulp Fiction."

Though there's not enough space to condense the entire plot here, Ritchie smartly plays to the current global economic woes, with much of his tale hanging on mortgage loans that never pay off.

As a result, two small-time crooks (Gerard Butler and Idris Elba) owe a seemingly lifetime of service to a more connected if not necessarily smarter mobster (the great Tom Wilkinson). All heck breaks loose when the latter consorts with a slimy Russian businessman (Karel Roden), his conniving accountant (Thandie Newton) and an unseen piece of wall art.

Among all the dirty double- and triple-dealing, young Brit actor Toby Kebbell commits larceny himself by stealing the picture -- the film, not the painting -- as the titled character, a punk musician who fakes his death. His American record promoters (Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) get involved, too, as does a Wilkinson henchman named Archie (Mark Strong) who doubles as narrator.

Hey, it's no Merchant-Ivory period piece, but it certainly is all Ritchie, whose ending even promises a sequel. As one of his characters might say, "I certainly wouldn't bet on it."