Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Guy Ritchie's newest British gangster film is pretty much exactly what the trailer indicates - a wild "in-too-far" story that features different sects of the London underground with ridiculously-named characters. This is the return (thankfully) of the Ritchie we once knew.

Writer/Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Jeremy Piven, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges

To paraphrase an article I read, Guy Ritchie movies are like AC/DC music. Who cares if the songs all sound the same, as long as they rock? Much like his famous earlier efforts Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, the plot of RockNRolla doesn't matter as much as the way that it's presented - fast flowing solid dialogue, and some memorable characters that get in over their heads with gangs and money.

For those interested, the convoluted plot follows a Russian mobster who is trying to get in on the action of the London scene, currently owned by Lenny (Tom Wilkinson, aka "Juntao" from Rush Hour) and his number one guy Archie. Deals go down, more players become involved, money is stolen, and a "lucky painting" is lost. A rock star has faked his death to boost record sales, and everyone is looking for everyone else. The main protagonists, a group of thieves known as "The Wild Bunch," get hooked up with a bored accountant (Newton) looking for some extra money on the side. From there, everything gets pretty out of control.

Stylistically, RockNRolla is a return to Ritchie's earlier (more respected) films rather than his "I'm only here to out-think you" 2005 attempt, Revolver. With character names like "One Two," "Johnny Quid," "Handsome Bob," "The Tank," and "Mumbles," RockNRolla takes more time to focus on these characters and builds their histories and relationships instead of confusing us with unnecessary plot twists. Gerard Butler, as the charismatic "One Two," led the charge of decent performances from the major players. No one in the cast was amazing in their roles (save for Wilkinson, who always delivers), because the characters were spread so thin there was never really enough time to concentrate on one more than the other. That being said, it seems Ritchie has settled down a bit behind the keyboard (he writes AND directs most of his films), and that definitely translated into a more positive movie watching experience. The editing was perfect for a movie like this: quick Aronofsky-esque montages when needed and a mix of music video and action movie for the rest.

A fine supporting cast was probably underused because there were a few too many characters thrown in. This resulted in Jeremy Piven and Ludacris only having like 15 minutes of screen time, which was a shame because there could have been a little more done with those characters. The only other real complaint I have is that Jason Statham (a Guy Ritchie staple) was not involved in this movie due to scheduling conflicts. As long as that means he was hard at work on Crank 2, Crank 3D, or Trans4ter, I suppose it's acceptable.

The cool part was the announcement of a sequel was attached to the ending title slide, listing a few characters names and saying that they will return in The Real RockNRolla. I've heard this was a planned trilogy, with the third in the series being called RockNRolla Suicide. If the others are just as good as this one, then I'll be pleased. Give this a shot if you're in the mood for a good crime flick or you've got a hankering to hear some intense British accents. Until next time...


Alan Trehern said...

Trans4ter sounds like Trans-Farter.

Ben Pearson said...

No way. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the actual title of the next movie (if there is one, of course).

Boze said...

Is trans4ter Legit?

Ben Pearson said...

Not yet, Boze - but we can only hope.