November 5, 2008 -- “RocknRolla” bears more than a passing resemblance to a couple of writer-director Guy (Mr. Madonna) Ritchie's earlier films, “Snatch” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” It has the same kind eccentric characters and a convoluted plot, but not as much action. Instead, “RocknRolla” uses fascinating characters and fantastic plot twists to make this story into a roller coaster ride of double-crosses, hidden agendas and unexpected revelations. It is quite a lot of fun, and not as bloody as some of Ritchie's earlier films.
Gerard Butler of “300” stars as a small-time hood with the unlikely name of One Two. He and his Wild Bunch gang, Mumbles, played by Idris Elba, and Handsome Bob, played by Tom Hardy, get caught up in a risky scheme to steal money from Russian mobsters who are working on a real estate development in London. Also involved in the scheme is a lovely accountant, Stella (played by Thandie Newton of “Mission Impossible II”). The Russians are reluctantly dealing with the head of organized crime in London, Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson of “Michael Clayton”) who can get them the building code variances they need through his connections. The only trouble is, crooks keep stealing the payoff money before the corrupt governmental officials can be paid off. Another problem for the crooks is that there is a police informer in their midst that no one has been able to catch. Another twist comes when someone steals a valuable painting that belongs to the Russians. It was entrusted to Lenny Cole. If his men can't recover the painting in time it could start a war between the two criminal factions. Yet another twist involves the mysterious disappearance of a drug-addicted rock and roll singer named Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell of “Control”).
As you can see from the above, this is not a simple plot, but all the threads tie together nicely. There is enough action and humor to keep things lively. The overall theme of the film is about the conflict between the new kids on the block and the tough, old time crooks who have ruled London for years. There is even a funny scene between two of the crooks after the credits start rolling. This is a very slick, sophisticated plot with some well-written characters. There is also a set up at the end for a sequel. I hope it is as good as the original. By the way, what is a RocknRolla? According to the movie, “ ... it's not about drugs, drums, and hospital drips, oh no. There's more there than that, my friend. 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, oh, he's different. Why? Because a real RocknRolla wants the fucking lot.” This film rates a B.
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