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Ritchie's 11 - Guy returns to form, while Kevin Smith and David Wain go Apatow

Category: RocknRolla Reviews
Article Date: November 4, 2008 | Publication: Fairfield Weekly | Author: Ann Lewinson

Posted by: stagewomanjen

What's a rocknrolla? "It's not about drums, drugs and hospital drips," explains Archy (Mark Strong), a dapper old-school mobster and right-hand man to fixer Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). What it is about I'm not exactly sure, but in Guy Ritchie's high-style return to form—visually, verbally and sonically—I'm not sure it matters.

RocknRolla is set amidst London's building boom, where property values are soaring as high as the hedge-fund bonuses and Russians are trying to get in on the action. But that's just setup for the usual shenanigans. The Russians' accountant (Thandie Newton) conspires with a small-time hustler named One Two (Gerald Butler) to steal their payoff to Lenny, while the Russians' collateral, a prized painting, is stolen. The painting is never seen, because such paintings never are. There's also an actual rock'n'roller, a crackhead named Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) whose presumed death has spiked his record sales. Is that a hint to the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Ritchie?

Ritchie stumbles with flashbacks to Johnny's troubled childhood, assigning motivation when this is the kind of movie where none is needed, but he's in his element in One Two's hangout, the spieler, where snappy aphorisms ricochet between the poker tables. The only stragglers are Ludacris and Jeremy Piven as Johnny's producers, who never quite get the Runyonesque rhythms. They're like out-of-place extras, and we'll probably have to suffer them again in the sequel. Because when Joel Silver's producing, there's a sequel, and this film is essentially a setup for Ritchie's own Oceans franchise, toplined by Butler and Strong, who with his turn as the head of Jordanian intelligence in Body of Lies is this season's MVP in movies no one is watching.


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