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'RocknRolla' stars Tom Wilkinson, Gerard Butler, Toby Kebbell

Category: RocknRolla Reviews
Article Date: October 31, 2008 | Publication: Chicago Tribune | Author: Michael Phillips

Posted by: stagewomanjen

A single aspect of the otherwise bleh " RocknRolla" distinguishes writer-director Guy Ritchie's latest attempt to take his mind off his home life as the soon-to-be-ex Mr. Madonna. The aspect in question is Tom Wilkinson. Terrific character actor, Wilkinson. He's played so many Americans the last few years, in "In the Bedroom" and " Michael Clayton" and others, it's a pleasure to hear him wrap that silky voice of his around the role of Lenny Cole, a high-living East End London lowlife.

He turns a tired archetype into a fresh creation. The rest of "RocknRolla" steals freely from Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," glossy, cooler-than-thou crime sprees designed for a brutish laugh or two. Gerard Butler is our alleged rooting interest, a petty crook named One Two who heads up a loose consortium of merry schemers nicknamed the Wild Bunch. A land-grab scheme having to do with pricey London real estate (pricey at the time of filming, anyway) leaves them in debt to Lenny (Wilkinson). Not for long, though. There are sniveling vicious Russians buying up everything in sight, and there is a precious painting, the whereabouts of which involves Lenny's drug-addled stepson (Toby Kebbell, so good in the recent "Control").

Ritchie, who shoots and cuts everything in "RocknRolla" like an ad for a particularly greasy brand of fragrance for men, delivers the beatings and killings in his trademark atmosphere of morally weightless flash. The film will have its defenders. I like my crime stories to say something more than "Cool way to torture somebody, eh?" and I'd rather rewatch Ritchie's remake of "Swept Away" starring the soon-to-be ex than have another go-around with these wiseguys, scheduled to return in a sequel.


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