Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, Offensive Language & Drug Use
Gerard Butler as One-Two
Mark Strong as Archy
Tom Wilkinson as Lenny Cole
Toby Kebbell as Johnny Quid
Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob
Idris Elba as Mumbles
Thandie Newton as Stella
Jeremy Piven as Roman
Ludacris as Mickey
Director: Guy Ritchie
Small-time crooks One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) decide to legitimately invest in some prime real estate and find themselves out of their depth and in debt to old-school London gangster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). Cole himself is in the middle of a business deal with a Russian gangster, but when his accountant tips off One Two and Mumbles to the details of an upcoming big-money business transaction, the two scallywags swoop in and steal the cash.
Guy Ritchie established himself as a filmmaker to pay attention to with Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch, both British crime comedies. RocknRolla, which was released in 2008, marked his next main gangster movie in roughly a decade, and it was quite good. It’s not as quite as good as the gangster movies that made him well known, but Ritchie is in his element here, and it’s quite entertaining for what it was.
With the story, characters and tropes, you can definitely tell it was directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s very well written, and has some interesting characters and plenty of plot twists. It’s also quite funny, very witty, and contains plenty of hilarious dialogue. Like Snatch there are so many characters and plotlines. The story branches out then effectively ties together at the climax, which I thought was done well. With that said, the story itself was a bit weak and is definitely overcomplicated, even if I like how some of the storylines and characters tie together. The storyline involving Tom Wilkinson’s character and the Russians I particularly found a bit hard to follow. It does suffer from slow pacing and being a bit predictable at points, even if I enjoyed watching all of it. It’s not a massive criticism but a disappointment is that it really does fall into the familiar tropes that Ritchie has already fallen into with his past movies. It’s more or less the same type of films with intertwined plots and characters of all different sites, all tied together by one little thing. However, those other two movies didn’t feel messy or convoluted like it does here. RockNRolla is still funny and there’s lots of gags, though it does seem to be missing something. The ending also does feel a bit rushed. One point in difference between RockNRolla and Ritchie’s first two movies that’s not better or worse is that it’s a little darker and more grounded and realistic, certainly not as offbeat as say Snatch. Everything here is sour and shady. It’s not devoid of fun, and a lot of the dialogue is hilarious, it’s just one way it differs from those other movies.
One consistently great thing in this movie is the great acting, there is a large cast and they all do well in their parts. Much of the cast includes Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell and Tom Wilkinson, they all do a great job. In terms of standouts, for me it’s Gerard Butler, Toby Kebbell, Tom Hardy, and Mark Strong.
Guy Ritchie takes the style that he had with Lock Stock and Snatch and combined it with his more modern filmmaking and it really paid off. The editing is always great and intertwines with the camerawork fluently. Visually, it’s surprisingly not quite as super stylised as Ritchie’s other films have been. There are some characteristic and signature camera tricks of his, especially towards the end of the movie. However for the most part, it plays more like an ordinary gangster action film. Nonetheless it works. The soundtrack is great too and is utilised perfectly.
RockNRolla wasn’t quite a return to form for Guy Ritchie even with it being within the genre that he’s known for, but it’s still a very enjoyable British crime flick. The characters are interesting, the acting is great from everyone, it’s funny, and it’s very stylish and generally entertaining. If you liked Snatch, or Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, or really any other British gangster comedy thrillers, then it’s worth checking out for sure. RockNRolla had a sequel-bait ending and for all of my issues with the movie, I actually did wish that Ritchie made a follow up, because there was really a lot of potential there.