RocknRolla Directed by: Guy Ritchie Cast: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven and Ludacris Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins Rating: R
Plot: Sometimes it's easier to actually do the things happening in Guy Ritchie plots than describe them. But here goes: members from the underground and the upper class become intertwined in an intricate scheme involving millions of dollars available from a real estate scam. Problems increase when "rocknrolla" Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) obtains a painting that Johnny's scam-involved father, Lenny Cole (Wilkinson), is also seeking.
Who’s It For? This one goes out to anyone who likes a little substance to their gritty rock 'em sock 'ems. This isn't a Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or a Snatch., but it will pacify Guy Ritchie fans who share his enthusiasm for anti-gangsters that double as grimy and flashy.
Expectations: Ritchie's previous Revolver was a complete bomb with American audiences who probably couldn't tolerate his new heady-ness along with its Jason-Statham-actually-has-hair-on-his-heady-ness. Was this going to be a step back into classic Ritchie or a step forward into Guy knows what?
Gerard Butler as One Two: The story plays with Butler as if he were meant to be the second coming of Jason Statham. Like the bald-headed man before him, Butler is a brawny lughead who is constantly placed in bizarre situations, often at his own comical expense. But the role fits him well, even if the script's shortage of action scenes doesn't let him prove it. Score: 6
Tom Wilkinson as Lenny Cole: With roles in films like Batman Begins and Cassandra's Dream, Wilkinson has been having a lot of fun playing the bad guy. Here, his head honcho is no different, though its arguably one of his funnier and more colorful characters. Score: 6
Thandie Newton as Stella: She's a sly, manipulative femme fatale whose knack for control and dancing reminded me of Uma Thurman's character in Pulp Fiction. Thankfully, this isn't a hammy role like Newton's Condoleeza Rice impersonation in W. On the other hand, at least that character had resonance. Score: 5
Ludacris and Jeremy Piven as Roman and Mickey: This somewhat unlikely duo is guilty of playing characters not unlike their projected Hollywood personas. The only component lacking to their successful characters is unabashed ego. So the both of each get a ... Score: 4
Talking: Though not over-abundant, RocknRolla has got a few quips that Guy Ritchie can add to his greatest hits collection. Clever dialogue such as "the streets are alive with the sound of pain" is witty, gritty, and always sarcastic. The actor whose character is most favored by Ritchie's wit is Wilkinson. The general memorability of Lenny Cole owes a nice dinner to lines like "Think before you drink before you drive me crazy." Score: 7
Sights: RocknRolla isn't without a unique vision by a director who has distanced himself from the rest (and from those who've tried to copy him). His whipping cameras, fast-paced cutting and deep colors are only nauseating in the incredibly jumbled failure of a credit sequence that also serves as a plot catch-up on super-sized steroids. Essentially, this movie is not for late-comers. Score: 6
Sounds: Ritchie is one of the masters at manipulating a diverse soundtrack to heighten the excitement of certain scenarios (using artists from Wang-Chung to Lou Reed to The Subways). Soundtracks in previous films like Lock, Stock and Snatch. are more memorable, but the songs in this film at least bring truth to its title. Score: 6
The story furthers Guy Ritchie's signature component of cool, but the writer-director's need for multiple characters and heavy plot lines is convoluted and near suicidal. RocknRolla resurrects the humor seemingly lost in his previous films (unless you were laughing AT Swept Away), though its jokes are a bit heavy-handed in homophobia, proposing, like an ignorant schoolyard bully, that homosexuals lack masculinity.
RocknRolla is like listening to a new album by an artist who just regained consciousness after a bout of alienating choices that left fans woeful for the golden days. Like most of these albums, there's one (or two) moments that stand out as both faithful to "golden days" roots and also hopeful for the future. In the film, there's a great robbery-gone-wrong scene with "The Wild Bunch" (the team name for One Two and his cronies) that continually surprises and amuses its audience. It's classic, pure Guy Ritchie, whereas any other scene can feel like it's only pretending to be.
Final Score: 6/10