?I own this town.? But owning is getting expensive for old-school London gangster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). A wealthier foreign mob is moving in with a riverfront property swindle. A small-timer (Gerard Butler) and his c... more »rew think they can play both sides and become big time. Now add a hard-as-ice accountant (Thandie Newton), a rocker playing dead to boost sales, wannabe music moguls (Jeremy Piven and Chris Bridges), a missing painting and a mad mosh of money and muscle, and youve got this funny, smash-mouth smackdown of sexthugs&rocknroll from writer/director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch).« less
"Guy Ritchie's "RocknRolla" is an expertly crafted crime caper, leading its characters through a labyrinthine plot, enticing the audience with clever writing, a strong cast, and brilliantly structured scenes of amazing style and precision. It earns the rare distinction of being successfully violent and funny at the same time, and yet it isn't cheap or juvenile; it achieves a higher level of boorishness, one that doesn't leave us feeling ashamed so much as it forces us to stare in helpless fascination. It tells a story that inventively entangles the characters--and us--in a vast web of corruption, deceit, and greed, and that's only within the first fifteen minutes. With such creative, fast-paced storytelling at work, I was happy to just sit back, relax, and let the story happen to me. Some may criticize "RocknRolla" for being hard to follow, and indeed, an awful lot happens in a relatively short period of time. But if you watch and listen closely, you'll soon realize that it's guiding you along.
What exactly is a RocknRolla? According to the film's narrator, a gangster named Archie (Mark Strong), to be a RocknRolla is, "not about drugs, drums, and hospital drips. We all like a bit of the good life--some the money, some the drugs, others the sex game, the glamour, or the fame." But a RocknRolla is different. Why? "Because a real RocknRolla wants the lot." It could be said, then, that Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), Archie's boss and the notoriously powerful head of London's criminal underworld, is a RocknRolla. He has complete control over the city's booming real estate market. One day, a pair of gangsters--One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba)--ask Lenny to finance a piece of property they want to develop. Lenny agrees to loan them a sizeable sum. What they don't know is that he doesn't intend on giving them the permits they're going to need; by going back on the deal, he can claim the property for himself and sell it for millions more. Unfortunately, this means that One Two and Mumbles will be millions of pounds in debt.
Here enters Stella (Thandie Newton), a cigarette-smoking, double-crossing temptress who, out of convenience, married a gay lawyer. She's a super-crafty accountant for a Russian mobster named Uri (Karel Roden), who, as it turns out, is making his own real estate deals with Lenny. When Uri asks Stella to secure 7,000,000 euros for a business transaction, she decides to play her own little game: She'll hire someone to intercept the unprotected money, then she'll pay the interceptor 2,000,000 euros and keep the remaining 5,000,000 for herself. Lo and behold, along comes One Two, desperately in need of cash to pay off his debt.
And this is when things really get interesting. Around the same time Stella and One Two come to an understanding, Uri decides to lend his most prized possession, a painting, to Lenny. Uri says that the painting has always brought him good luck, and as a gesture of goodwill, he wants to temporarily share that luck with Lenny. What's interesting about this subplot is that we never actually see the painting, so we can only assume what its actual value is. Be that as it may, the painting is very valuable to Uri, which poses a real problem for Lenny when it ends up getting stolen. Not wanting to appear foolish, and hoping to keep hold of his deal with Uri, Lenny urgently orders his men to keep watch over the criminal underworld of London. This includes One Two's gang, the Wild Bunch. It also includes Lenny's stepson, Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbel), a rebellious, self-destructive junkie rock star who, for reasons known only to him, repeatedly fakes his own death.
As Lenny's desperation grows, he threatens to shut down a nightclub owned by Roman (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Mickey (Jeremy Piven), two Americans who frequently showcased Johnny's band. Roman and Mickey then seek out a man named Cookie (Matt King), a junkie himself before Johnny helped him overcome his addiction (or so he claims). Because of this, Cookie refuses to tell them where Johnny is hiding.
As the film's writer, Ritchie not only proves that he can give his characters witty, irreverent dialogue, he also proves that he can develop them in ways appropriate to the story. One example is Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy), who comes out of the closet as he sits in the car with his best friend, One Two. In a lesser film, Handsome Bob would be a run-of-the-mill gay stereotype, serving no real purpose other than being everyone's punch line. Here, he's a functional, contributing character, and he makes it clear that he doesn't want to do anything funny with One Two--he just wants to dance with him. Another example is a pair of sadomasochistic Russian bodyguards, who compare scars with the same casual manner of boys comparing baseball cards. They're virtually indestructible, as One Two discovers when he tries to rob them of their money (another one of Stella's jobs). What could have been unnecessary distractions are instead entertaining side characters.
As the film's director, Ritchie takes the time to consider every detail, from camera angles to lighting to speed, all of which add to the quirkiness of the characters. Johnny, for example, is usually filmed in slow motion while engulfed in the murkiness of his drug den. There's also a wonderful shot in a museum, in which Stella begins walking away from One Two; she starts at a normal pace, but in a moment of adrenaline, the film speeds up, and she zooms out of the shot. How perfect for a character that quickly switches allegiances whenever money is at stake. "RocknRolla" is an absolutely masterful film, wonderfully acted, carefully plotted, and cleverly structured."
Dotty McMillan | Riverside, California United States | 12/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Guy Richie has turned out the gem of his career with RockNrolla. Perfect cast (Wilkenson should get an award for this one) incredible sound track, and a wild and wicked plot. Unlike some of his others, this one makes it a bit easier to understand the dialects. It was the delight of my movie going month in October when it came out here in the U.S.
From reading some of the reviews that pan this movie, it is obvious that they are not familiar with Guy Richie's films, his style and his offbeat humor. It is sort of like licorice; Some people love it some people hate it. But for those of us who have the right mindset for Richie's style of film, this it the best one to come along in a long time.
Gerard Butler's turn in this is hysterically funny and is such a great switch from his role in 300. No type casting trap for Gerry. This guy can play the heck out of any role imaginable. But if the Wild Bunch shows up again in the next Richie film, I hope Gerry is included.
DottyinCA Riverside, CA"
Dark, funny, and violent- a welcome back for Guy Ritchie
Renfield | Edmonton, Canada | 09/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I managed to have seen the leak of the movie (It got released in the UK early), and while it may feel a little lengthy, it is definitely worth your time. Guy Ritchie has come back after an ultimate flop named "Swept Away". In a stellar cast including Gerard Butler and Thandie Newton, Russian gangsters and British Gangsters are on a roll when a painting is up for grabs. But when 7 Million euros and a dead rock star cause some thunder and lightining, things get ugly pretty fast! Everyone is wonderful in the movie. Gerard Butler is great in his role as One-Two, and there's some great action, even the chase in the train yards. The only thing I didn't like was that the film felt lengthy at 114 minutes, seeing as there are no major plot twists. But overall, this is a great caper flick that is not about the chase, but the PROCESS. And just a word of warning- you may never look at a crayfish the same way again after seeing this movie."
Unorthodox, Gritty, Darkly Funny, Fast-Paced, Easy To Follow
MUZIK4THAPEOPLE!! | Orlando, FL | 03/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I find that Guy Ritchie's work inspires deep feelings of love or hate! There is no middleground among people when it comes to him. Some see him as a ridiculous wanna-be Scorcesse or DePalma, others see him as a fresh new voice and vision in cinema for the 21st Century. I enjoyed this movie and all it's rawness, dark humor, violence and rollercoaster twists and turns! Gerard Butler, Idris Elba & their motley crew of low dollar thugs with ambitions for the bigtime made this movie for me! Their interplay was priceless against the story's other very interesting characters. I also love the cracked-out, devil-may-care, balls-to-the-wall portrayal of the ROCK-N-ROLLA himself, Johnny Quid, who is one of the main bad guy's stepson who this whole crazy ride revolves around!--He is a hoot!
Jeremy Piven & Chris "Ludacris" Bridges play his smarmy record company moguls who get tangled up in this wild web as well! I don't care what anyone says!---I thought this was brilliant! Now to prove my point of how Guy Ritchie's work polarizes people... My mother, who watched this movie with me, ABSOLUTELY THOUGHT IT WAS TRASH!! You have to decide this one for yourself..."
Johnny Quid= Sid Vicious if Nancy never existed
DirtySanchez | Denver | 01/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This another fantastic movie from a brilliant director. He really got in touch with his roots on this one. The plot and pace of the movie were very similar to Guy Ritchie's earlier work: Lock, Stock and Snatch. If you didn't care for those two, don't bother with this one. Character development is definitely Ritchie's strong suit. Johnny Quid is the alternate universe equivalent to Sid Vicious if Nancy had never existed. Something that never lacks in a Ska film is the Soundtrack. My God! this is some great music! Using the song Bank Robber by the Clash as Johnny Quid's theme music was dead on. Hopefully this will be the movie to get Guy Ritchie out of movie jail. Swept Away and Revolver were pretty damn bad. Getting rid of the dead weight in his life has to have helped."