'RocknRolla's' momentum quickly fades

Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: October 31, 2008 | Publication: The Baltimore Sun | Author: Michael Sragow
Publication/Article Link:http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/custom/today/bal-to.roundup31oct31,0,1007598.story

Watching Guy Ritchie's British-underworld farce, RocknRolla, is like being compelled to pay attention to a nonstop rock station you normally use as background while you're doing chores. The words are catchy and the beat keeps you awake, though all of it quickly fades. Gerard Butler and Idris Elba star as One Two and Mumbles, respectively, pals who carry the air of a boys' clubhouse into strip bars and clip joints. Attempting to better themselves through London real estate, they wind up in debt to the top fixer in town, Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), the self-described criminal headmaster of everything Old School.

With the help of his right-hand man, Archie (Mark Strong), Cole plots the financial mugging of a Russian capitalist, Uri (Karel Roden). Neither Cole nor Uri predict the chicanery of Uri's accountant Stella ( Thandie Newton), a class act who's all act. Just as lethal is Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), a drug-addicted rocker savvy and bold enough to stage his own apparent suicide to boost CD sales. He also happens to be Cole's bitter stepson.

Kebbell plays Quid like a zombie with his satanic faculties intact. He enjoys bedeviling his managers (Chris Bridges aka Ludacris and Jeremy Piven) as much as he does sticking it to his stepdad. Even better is Archie. The aptly named Strong lets us see that Archie may be even smarter than he is loyal. We learn that when Archie says a real RocknRolla wants every bit of the good life, he's talking about himself.

2.5 stars