FILM REVIEW: ROCKNROLLA
Category: RocknRolla Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: January 30, 2009 | Publication: The Sofia Echo | Author: Pavel Ivanov
Director: Guy Ritchie
Running time: 114’
It has been six years that we’ve been hoping for another good Guy Ritchie movie. His 2002 collaboration with his wife (yes, Madonna) on Swept Away was not what the audiences wanted, to put it mildly, while 2005’s Revolver was incomprehensible and pretentious beyond the point of tolerance. With that in mind, RocknRolla is saddled with the unwanted and unenviable task of either showing that Ritchie is still a filmmaker with plenty of energy and flair, or proving that he has finally lost it. Luckily, the former is the case and the wait for a new, good Ritchie film is finally over.
He returns to the world of super-cool and super-ridiculous bona fide and aspiring gagsters who try to double-cross everybody with varying degrees of success. RocknRolla is of the same blood type as Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, which is good news for Ritchie fans, but also provides welcome ammunition for his detractors, who will seize on the opportunity to claim that these self-styled eccentrically eloquent gagster Mobius strips are the only thing at which Ritchie is good. Well, even if the latter is the case, he is very, very good at it.
RocknRolla is brimming with characters for whom double-crossing seems a means of existence. Tom Wilkinson plays Lenny Cole, a London real estate kingpin, who gives a multimillion loan to One Two (Gerald Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba), small time gangster and real estate tycoon wannabes, then tricks them and demands repayment. Lenny then decides to do business with a Russian billionaire named Uri (Karel Roden), who wants in on the booming London real estate market. Lenny explains that getting the development permits needed would require $7 million that don’t appear on any balance sheet. Uri agrees and even gives Lenny his “good luck painting” as security for their business arrangement.
Now, Uri’s creative and seductive accountant (Thandie Newton) arranges for the money to appear, but then she decides to sidetrack it herself and hires none other than One Two and Mumbles to steal it. Once they do, Uri gets understandably mad, and Lenny gets even madder because he cannot pay off the crooked councilman who, in turn, needs it desperately to save his career. Oh yes, and Uri’s good luck painting gets stolen from Lenny’s office and appears in the hands of a depraved rock star named Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), who stages his own death in order to sell more records and then turns out to be the stepson of, wouldn’t you know it, Lenny Cole.
ow, you may think that this sounds way too confusing or that I have given too much away. Think again. The plot is surprisingly easy to follow, even though I have not even mentioned some of the most intriguing characters. It suffices to say that the film proves again that British actors play gangsters the way a good jazz musician plays a loving interpretation of a standard tune.
The performances are a treat from beginning to end and provide a smoother feel to Ritchie’s droll, yet occasionally rambling, dialogue. Visually, RocknRolla shares kinship with Lock, Stock and with Snatch, but the hip flourishes are toned down in favour of telling a story that is as welcome as it is unexpected. All in all, the film is a pleasing return to form for the director and it earns the genuine anticipation that you will feel for the sequel announced in the last scene.