ROCKNROLLA: FUN BUT NOT SURPRISING
With RocknRolla, Guy Ritchie goes back to what he knows best. Gangsters and thugs are trying to double cross each other. There are the Russians. And this time there is a hot femme fatale thrown in for good measure. Its a fun ride but it's not anything we haven't seen before.
Archy (Mark Strong) is Lenny's (Tom Wilkinson) right hand man. Lenny is a London gangster who specializes in bricks and mortar. To put it simply, he is in the business of buying and selling buildings. And London's real estate is only going up. The Wild Bunch are a bunch of thugs that include One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba). When Lenny gets involved in a deal with Russian Uri (Karel Roden), 14 million Euros and a prized painting goes missing. All are involved including Uri's accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) and Lenny's presumed dead junkie son Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell). What conspires leaves a few dead, a few rich, and somebody missing a couple of body parts.
Ritchie knows his gangsters and thugs. He broke onto the scene with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and then followed that with Snatch. Snatch is by far the best of the three. When Ritchie tries to veer away from these movies he stumbles. See Swept Away and you will see the difference (on second thought, don't). All of Ritchie's thugs are either meat heads or incredibly smart. And his gangsters are cruel, violent, and sharp dressed men. He has almost created stereotypes just from these three films. But you can always count on clever dialogue, British accents and brawls. Tom Wilkinson has proven himself over and over again that he can blend into any character he plays. With Lenny he proves that he can do it again. He plays Lenny as a desperate gangster who is afraid of losing the respect he believes he deserves. Thandie Newton as Stella the accountant just looks bored all the time and is basically just a statue of beauty. Gerard Butler is the most entertaining as the thug One Two who doesn't know everything there is to know about his buddy Handsome Bob. He is cool and smug and just chews up every scene he is in. There is no other place to film for Ritchie other than London as it provides the grittiness each story needs. There are also the impressive buildings such as the football stadium that Uri and Lenny first meet at.
It would be nice to see gangsters doing something other than strong arming the little guys and for thugs to be doing something other than stealing money.
RocknRolla isn't Guy Ritchie's finest work, but it isn't his worst. It still provides some laughs and twists along the way. But don't expect to be surprised if you are a fan of his work. He's done it before with films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.