Genre: Action, Comedy
by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Toby Kebbell, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jeremy Piven
Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Short: Guy Ritchie returns to what he does best (exploring the seedy side of London's gangster population) with exhilarating results.
Down, Dirty and a Crack-Up
Guy Ritchie's London Gangsters are in Fine Form
Writer-director Guy Ritchie is at his best when he focuses his talents far away from his wife Madonna (does anyone even remember their ill-advised remake of Swept Away?) and stays within the world he seems to know best—that of the seedy side of London. In Ritchie's visions, it is a place filled with gangsters, low lifes, and, in the case of RocknRolla, one very screwed-up rock star.
As he's done before in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, the films that made him a Tinseltown star ten years ago, Ritchie weaves a complex web of thieves and gangsters in RocknRolla, who are all on the lookout for a very big score. Tom Wilkinson, in a terrifically dark and brutal performance, is the head of the London underworld; his gang includes Gerard Butler, Mark Strong and Idris Elba, in a crew that is not always known to follow orders, nor even to be found on the same page during a caper.
When a huge opportunity arises for the gang to make a big deal with a Russian builder (who is, we soon realize, a big gangster himself), they jump at the chance, and then find themselves in the midst of a series of very violent consequences when they try to outsmart him. In the midst of it all comes the "RocknRolla" of the title, a strung-out rock star whose relationships with the London gang run deep and ugly. Ferociously played by the mostly unknown actor Toby Kebbell, this is a character that you'll never forget.
As in those classic earlier flicks, when Ritchie really gets going and lets his motley crew loose to make mistakes and suffer the consequences, his films are a joy to watch. With just the right blend of comedy, brutality, sexuality and insanity, Ritchie creates a world that is incredibly amusing and tons of fun to watch as its convoluted story unfolds. And when he is at his best, like he is with RocknRolla, he's really wonderful.
At the end of the film, Ritchie boldly promises a sequel; we're planning to be first in line to see the next chapter in this wigged-out gang's ongoing story.
Reviewed by Jenny Peters