Wednesday, February 4, 2009


It was not the plot in "RocknRolla" that kept me in, nor the style that's become Guy Ritchie's trademark. It was the stunning nature of the director's well rounded characters that are the basis for the film. Without these types, we would have nothing but chaos. The film is just as well anchored by a pretty good turn from Tom Wilkinson, who shows yet again that he plays the same character every time. He's Lenny Cole, crime boss, a man who owns the criminal world pretty much like Bill Cutting owned the Five Points. He's making a deal with Uri (Karel Roden), his Russian counterpart, and Uri offers him his "lucky painting," which we wisely never see. Cole loses the painting almost immediately, and calls on narrator Archie (Mark Strong) to get it back. While this is all going on, we also are introduced to a criminal group known as the Wild Bunch, which consists of One-Two (Gerard Butler), Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy), and Mumbles (Idris Elba). There's also Cookie (Matt King), who I call attention to as he is a British Steve Buscemi who's a little more hip. They are robbing Uri and his guards and they have one scene in particular, where Ritchie breaks out his kinetic camerawork for the only time in this film. There is also Stella, played by the sexy Thandie Newton, a sleek accountant who is somewhat of a love interest. But the main character and source of trouble is Johnny Quid, played by Toby Kebbell, Lenny's stepson, who fakes his own death regularly so he can go drug himself out. There is one strange scene where Johnny plays the piano and talks about his addiction to cigarettes, easily one of the best in the movie. The movie itself is a little shortchanged do to its complicated plot and conclusive climax, but the script is a spark plug here, written by Ritchie and performed well by his great cast. It's surprising how this one stays afloat, but it's actually quite a decent action pic. That's what a great cast is for: reviving your movie, and Ritchie knows how to do just that. It's a well-made, well-acted, and very well-scripted vehicle, and, although overbearing at times, sometimes hits high marks. The biggest problem is that it can at times be a real strain to like, but Guy Ritchie keeps that thought in check enough for you to praise the film's subtle qualities. B-

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