'RocknRolla' is a graphic hit
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: November 4, 2008 | Publication: The Daily Campus | Author: Valerie Calderon
4 and a half out of 5 stars
Three words can sum up Guy Ritchie's latest writing and directing project "RocknRolla," an exciting gangster thriller. The film takes the format of a graphic novel and is action-packed and funny.
"RocknRolla" is reminiscent of Ritchie's other films, taking cinematic cues from his earlier film "Snatch." The film is visually stylized and his writing is fast and clever with witty dialogue. Ritchie uses interesting camera angles and fast cutting to set the gritty tone of the film. Special effects that could be considered cheesy are used just enough to add to the graphic novel mood of the film.
The film also takes cues from Quentin Tarantino's films. Like Tarantino, Ritchie forms a web of relationships between a number of characters, but they are all tied together in the end, similar to "Pulp Fiction."
"RocknRolla" takes place in modern London. It is focused on the current real estate boom in the city and Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), an old generation gangster dressed in elegant suits. A catch phrase he repeats throughout the film is, "What do you think we are? Gangsters?" while conducting a sort of intimidation technique.
Lenny goes into business with a Russian businessman, Uri (Karel Roden), who also uses his own intimidation gangster techniques during the film. Uri wants to build a sports stadium in the city, but needs Cole's help in gaining government contacts - contacts he is willing to pay seven million Euros for.
As part of their deal, Uri lends Lenny his lucky painting as a sign of goodwill in their deal. The painting becomes the McGuffin that the whole film revolves around when it is stolen off of Cole's wall.
All the actors in this ensemble cast bring a unique flair to their characters. One Two (Gerard Butler) is part of The Rowdy Bunch, small time gangsters that move onto big-time heists. Mumbles (Idris Elba) and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) are also members of the small gang who add to the comedic aspect of the film.
Other notable performances come from Stella (Thandie Newton) who plays a cold mobster accountant and Cole's right hand man Archie (Mark Strong). Also, Roman (Chris Bridges) and Mickey (Jeremy Piven) play record producers who unwillingly become part of the painting fiasco. One breakthrough performance is Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), Cole's stepson and a drug addict.
Drugs, alcohol and violence bring this film together, but there are still allusions to the troubles of greed and friendship that resonate.
At 114 minutes "RocknRolla" is a blast. The energy is high throughout the film making it a very fun ride. Up-tempo rock music and interesting lighting all add something to a film that has been done before.
The movie ends setting itself up for another installment saying, "Archie, Johnny and The Wild Bunch will return in 'The Real RocknRolla,"according to The Internet Movie Database, this film is meant to be part of a trilogy following the characters that live in the end of the film. This film is cult-classic-worthy and if the following films are as good as the original, it will be well worth it.