RocknRolla (2008) 3.86/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 73.8
Genre: Crime
Duration: 114 mins
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Gerard Butler, Tom Hardy, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Strong

“You didn’t realise that they had guns? Big, long, dangerous machine guns with war criminals attached to the trigger?” After a disappointing eight years on the back of Lock Stock and Snatch., Guy Ritchie returned to stylish form with this playful caper movie wherein a bunch of loveable rogues get caught up in a real estate scam between London’s underworld and a Russian oligarch. Things are made even more unpredictable when the junkie rockstar stepson of London’s chief mobster fakes his demise and starts stirring the shit from the shadows, just for kicks.

Credit where it’s due, RocknRolla is one hell of an original crime feature. The characters, the dynamics between them, the plots, and the set pieces are all fresh and forged with an often twisted hilarity. And that it’s all cooked up in a big pot of fun and easy going humour ensures that it’s finest virtue is sheer enjoyability. Moreover, it was critical for Ritchie to take himself less seriously after the pretentiousness of his previous two outings. The dialogue isn’t as overtly sharp as Lock Stock and Snatch. but it’s more than tinted with wit and satire. This more mature and seasoned approach to Ritchie’s writing is a nice development in his career and with the real estate plot, it was necessary to the film. However, his directorial style is still defined by the burning intensity of a young talent trying to catch the eye of his audience but given the carefree nature of the film, it doesn’t hurt the script. In fact, it complements the playfulness of the plot.

In front of the camera, Ritchie assembles the cream of Britain’s current crop of talent with Gerard Butler, Tom Hardy, and Idris Elba playing the small time chancers and setting a charming tone both as a team and on their own. Thandie Newton is in delicious form as a deviously eccentric accountant and Tom Wilkinson scores yet again as the colourful if sometimes cartoon like mobster kingpin. Best of all though, are Toby Kebbell and Mark Strong. The former, as the eponymous meddler, puts in an enigmatic and lyrical turn to meet his cockney character’s writing head on. The latter, as Wilkinson’s charismatic smooth talking trouble shooter, shows yet again that he’s the most interesting British actor on the go at the moment.

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