by Del Harvey
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Guy Ritchie returns to perhaps his best genre, the crime film, with RocknRolla, starring Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Idris Elba, and Tom Wilkinson, to name but a few. Many critics and fans have been waiting for Ritchie to return to the standard set by his early films Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and this is it. Although I will admit that I truly did enjoy Revolver, which if anything could be called an intellectual’s variation on a Ritchie crime film. But RocknRolla should be just the thing his fans have long been waiting for.
The major difference is his cast. Instead of Jason Statham we are treated to Gerard Butler, and actor who can not only play action and do so convincingly, but one who can also do humor and romance equally as convincingly. Other standouts in the cast include Mark Strong as Wilkinson’s elegant strongarm Archie, and Toby Kebbell as junkie rocker Johnny Quid, Wilkinson’s stepson and nemesis.
A mobster from the old school, Lenny (Wilkinson) knows the right wheels to grease and has his hand on the throat of any bureaucrat, broker or gangster that matters. With one phone call, Lenny can make the red tape disappear. But as Lenny’s right-hand man Archie (Mark Strong) tells him, London is ground zero for the changing times, with big-time mobsters from the East (Karel Roden), hungry criminals from the streets, and everyone in-between, all vying to change the rules of commerce and crime. With millions up for grabs, all of London’s criminal underworld conspires, colludes and collides with one another in an effort to take their cut. But as high rollers and petty criminals alike jockey for dominance, the true prize of one multi-million-dollar deal will fall into the hands of a junkie rock star (Toby Kebbell) - Lenny’s stepson, presumed dead but very much alive.
And there’s a nice twist that unravels towards the end and which throws a monkey wrench into everything. One thing Ritchie is good at is the sly and surprising convoluted plot, and he satisfies with that element in RocknRolla, yet does not overdo it. I was greatly anticipating this film, as I do most all of Ritchie’s work, and was happy to discover his success in crafting a film which incorporates all of the old excitement of his early films while simultaneously revealing a maturity in plot and character. Mr. Ritchie’s films just keep getting better and better, and RocknRolla is definitely one of his best and very much worth seeing.
The dvd is available from Warner Bros. on January 27. You can check out the official site here: http://www.rock-n-rolla.com/
It is also available for purchase here: http://whv.warnerbros.com/WHVPORTAL/Portal/product.jsp?OID=72323
No matter how you choose to acquire the film, I recommend doing so in the very near future. You won’t be disappointed.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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