Movie Review: Rocknrolla
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: November 13, 2008 | Publication: tvnz.co.nz | Author: Darren Bevan
Cast: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Toby Kebbell
Director: Guy Ritchie
The gangster genre is one Guy Ritchie knows well.
After trailblazing the way with Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels and Snatch, he stumbled a bit with Revolver (we'll avoid mentioning Swept Away too much given the painful public split he and Madge seem to be going through)
But it's a real pleasure to say he's bang on form with his latest outing Rocknrolla- and he brings out some of the best performances from his cast.
And what a cast - a real mix of characters - Russian gangsters, London gangsters, drugged up, tripped out popstars, crooked accountants - all of your regular underworld low-lives inhabit this latest shaggy dog story.
In Rocknrolla, Gerard Butler is Wild Bunch member One Two, and along with his partner in crime Mumbles (Idris Elba), the pair are desperate to get the money they owe gangland kingpin Lenny Cole (an outstanding and extremely volatile Tom Wilkinson)
So they devise a scheme to steal the money from a Russian bigwig - whose dodgy accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) is only to happy to help.
The problem is those Russian bigwigs are in town to do a deal with Lenny Cole.
Things get even more tangled and complicated when the Russian boss gives Cole a priceless painting as a goodwill gesture - only for that to be stolen by supposedly dead popstar Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell).
Rocknrolla is a stylistic treat from its opening visuals and booming soundtrack to its final reel comic effect extra.
That's not to say there's a lack of violence and swearing (as well as possibly the cinema's shortest ever sex scene) - but the shaggy dog ride director (and writer) Ritchie spins you along will leave you breathless.
Gerard Butler is good as One Two - his unending fight with a Russian mobster over a series of locations has to be one of the most wearying ever committed to celluloid.
But real kudos must go to Tom Wilkinson's Lenny Cole and his right hand man Archie (Mark Strong).
These two bring a level of menace to London's criminal underworld not seen for a while - Wilkinson, in particular, destroys any trace of him being the cuddly old man many will remember from the Full Monty.
Mark Strong simply consolidates his place as the continually rising star of the big screen.
And there's a hilarious running gag throughout the film which centres on the painting - and is very much akin to the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.
If there's to be a criticism of Rocknrolla, it's that some of the supporting players (such as Johnny Quid's managers Jeremy Piven and Ludacris' Roman) are sidelined because of the sheer numbers of the cast and plot.
However, that's a trivial complaint in what's a darkly funny, stylistic and visually arresting film.
Don't worry if you feel out of breath at the end; according to Thandie Newton, Rocknrolla is the first of a trilogy - which given some of the loose ends, is great news for the Wild Bunch.