RocknRolla (15)



Action (2008)
114mins UK

Starring: Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Gemma Arterton, Tom Wilkinson, Jeremy Piven, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Toby Kebbell, Karel Roden, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer(s): Guy Ritchie
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

London hoodlum Lenny Cole is keen to forge close business ties with Russian entrepreneur Uri and the pair agree to join forces on a high profile construction project which requires seven million Euros of Uri's cash. Unfortunately, the money is stolen shortly after it leaves the bank. Uri demands justice before seeking out his accountant Stella to arrange a second withdrawal. Meanwhile, Lenny has problems of his own to retrieve a stolen painting. Lenny asks right-hand man Archie to enlist the services of bad boys One Two and Mumbles to track down the thief and return the masterpiece.

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RocknRolla Interviews

LondonNet Film Review by Jill Hilbrenner
RocknRolla

Guy Ritchie has made another gangster movie. In other news, Keira Knightley is still doing period pieces, while Will Ferrell prefers to star as bumbling goofs who somehow manage to pull better-looking women...

GERARD BUTLER as One Two and IDRIS ELBA as Mumbles in Warner Bros. Pictures' action RocknRolla. Alex Bailey. Copyright 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - All Rights ReservedMadonna's husband applies his crime-and-corruption formula (see: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch) to RocknRolla, which explores the darker side of the London property market while integrating bongs, unusual talismans and child abuse. Ritchie immediately drops several cool points for going with that title, but more on that later.

Old-school mobster Lenny Cole (BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson) has known who to call to swing real-estate deals in his favour for years. But the bald, tinted-sunglasses-wearing schemer is aging, and the market and the criminals who manipulate it are changing. Small-timer One Two (Gerard Butler, not quite reprising his P.S. I Love You role) uses his band of cockney crooks, The Wild Bunch, to try outmanoeuvring the chief. Whisky fanatic Russian billionaire Uri Obomavich (Karel Roden) doesn't respect the hierarchy Lenny has topped after all his years scheming. And corrupt, chain-smoking accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) covertly works with both One Two and Uri, which leaves Lenny and his aging bones at risk.

(L-R) JIMI MISTRY as the Councilor and TOM WILKINSON as Lenny in Warner Bros. Pictures action film RocknRolla. Alex Bailey. Copyright: 2008 Dark Castle Holdings, LLC Copyright: 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - All Rights ReservedRitchie strings a complicated net of secrets, sex and stealing between the money-hungry characters, and throws in a mischievous, seriously crack-addicted rocker named Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) and two Americans infiltrating the London music scene (Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges and a noticeably bulked-up Jeremy Piven). RocknRolla is nothing novel for the writer-director, but it stands the chance of capturing the guy-movie fan base hoping Ritchie can redeem himself after Swept Away.

Not that he's getting ahead of himself, but Ritchie has already written the sequel to RocknRolla. Meanwhile, Warner Bros has pointed out it might not widely distribute the film when after its US premiere in October. "I don't think it's broadly commercial," Warner President Alan Horn told the Los Angeles Times. "It feels like a film that deserves a spirited release, but not a wide one." Producer Joel Silver reportedly has consulted other companies.

Maybe Warner Bros would like the film better if it had a different title. If Ritchie, with his clean-cut wealth and his pop-star wife, is street enough to start dropping the endings from words, then Zac Efron is the next Pete Doherty. A real gangster might just pistol-whip him for talking that way.

- Jill Hilbrenner

RocknRolla Interviews

LondonNet Film Review by Jo Planter
RocknRolla

Three years after the debacle of Revolver, writer-director Guy Ritchie returns to the mean streets of London, as captured in his iconic debut Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, for this serpentine gangland thriller...

GEMMA ARTERTON as June and JEREMY PIVEN as Roman in Warner Bros. Pictures action film RocknRolla. Alex Bailey. Copyright: 2008 Dark Castle Holdings, LLC Copyright: 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - All Rights ReservedHe shouldn't have bothered because RocknRolla is fleeting style and no substance, with a plot that quite literally goes round in circles. A minimalist sex scene of quickly edited sighs and a comical chase involving a pair of indestructible Russian goons picks up the slackened pace, suggesting Ritchie may have saved the best for last. Regrettably, the film ends with a whimper rather than a bang and the very real threat of a sequel as end credits disclose that surviving players "will be back in The Real RocknRolla". The introduction of a gay character serves no dramatic purpose other than to be a sitting duck for homophobic jibes ("He's a flamer. Sausage and beans all day long!") As a counterpoint, another leading protagonist spouts xenophobic obscenities at all and sundry.

The foul-mouthed bigot in question is Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), an old school mobster with visions of grandeur far above his station, who is keen to forge business ties with shady Russian billionaire Uri Obomavich (Karel Roden). East meets west on a lucrative property deal, which requires seven million Euros of Uri's cash and a nod and a wink from a corrupt councillor (Jimi Mistry), who guarantees planning permission. Unfortunately for Uri and his associate Victor (Dragan Micanovic), the investment money is half-inched as part of a get rich scheme orchestrated by sexy accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) and a pair of petty thieves, One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba). Meanwhile, Lenny has problems of his own to retrieve a stolen masterpiece, entrusted into his care by the Russian entrepreneur. "That's his favourite painting, his lucky painting!" Lenny tells right-hand man Archie (Mark Strong), who enlists the services of One Two, Mumbles and pal Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) to track down the thieves and return the canvas.

GERARD BUTLER as One Two and THANDIE NEWTON as Stella and in Warner Bros. Pictures action RocknRolla. Alex Bailey. Copyright: 2007 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. - All Rights ReservedRocknRolla leans heavily on the slow motion and the plot hangs together by a thread, using the stolen painting as a MacGuffin to draw together the characters for the inevitable, blood-soaked final showdown. Dialogue doesn't ring true ("Think before you drink before you drive me mad") and a couple of flashbacks reduce pacing to a crawl. Butler and Newton generate sparks of sexual tension in their scenes, including a ridiculous dance floor seduction, but their characters don't develop at all. Wilkinson could play his kingpin in his sleep - considering he wears dark glasses for most of the film, perhaps he does. We're likely to join him in the land of nod before the end credits roll when Ritchie reveals what really happens when notorious ladies man Handsome Bob propositions a stunned One Two: "I don't want the strippers, I want you!"

- Jo Planter


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