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10/31 - Review: 'RocknRolla' Film serves up a vibrant, seedy slice of London

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from: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08305/924219-42.stm

Movie Review: 'RocknRolla' Film serves up a vibrant, seedy slice of London Friday, October 31, 2008 By Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Guy Ritchie has a way with words, which means his manly men in "RocknRolla" have one, too.

Talking about seemingly indestructible toughs who nearly killed him, a small-time crook nicknamed One Two (Gerard Butler) says, "The Russians had big, long, dangerous machine guns with war criminals attached to the trigger."

Mob boss Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), who greases the skids for real estate and other deals in exchange for fat satchels of cash, asserts, "There's no school like the old school, and I'm the [expletive] headmaster." He has ways to make people talk that even Tony Soprano might find inventive and effective.

"RocknRolla" plops moviegoers into a slice of London where big-time mobsters, small-time hustlers, wannabes, crooks, junkies, lawyers on the take, accountants massaging the books, thieves and a newcomer -- a Russian billionaire named Uri (Karel Roden) -- cross and double-cross paths.

Writer-director Ritchie builds his story like a Jenga player, stacking characters and complications and delicious details into a wobbly tower but never allowing it to fall.

Uri, for instance, owns what he calls his "lucky painting," which he lends to a business associate with regrettable results. A Londoner appropriately nicknamed Tank is watching a movie on a small screen in his car, and it's instantly evident that it's the Merchant-Ivory period drama "The Remains of the Day."

"RocknRolla" pits mature, old-school criminals against upstarts called the Wild Bunch and international interlopers. As he proved with "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" (in deference of his impending divorce from Madonna, we will refrain from revisiting "Swept Away"), Ritchie has a knack for casting.

In addition to Butler, Roden and Wilkinson, who changes his look with some male pattern baldness, the cast includes Mark Strong, a sensational scene stealer in "Body of Lies" and here playing Lenny's assistant, Archy; Thandie Newton, as an accountant who is often shown in dramatic slender silhouette; Idris Elba as Mumbles, One Two's partner in crime; Tom Hardy as Handsome Bob, their wheelman who is facing five years in prison; Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Jeremy Piven as Americans trying to break into the music scene; and the fabulous Toby Kebbell as a British punk rocker and junkie who has been reported dead.

"RocknRolla" rides a wave of music -- a dynamic mix of punk, garage and indie rock -- as it builds to Ritchie's version of an Agatha Christie mystery with a goodly number of the characters gathered in one spot that definitely doesn't resemble a stuffy drawing room.

The story's emphasis on the changing nature of real estate and developers in London seems tailor-made for Brits, not Americans, and the movie manages to seem both homophobic and open-minded when it comes to a character who is secretly gay.

Although some characters and building blocks work better than others, it's like a ride down the slide at a water park. It's twisty-turny, fast and fun and seems to set you up to do it again.

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I'm looking forward to seeing RNR. The local reviews here came out this am as the picture is being shown around town at different theatres and they were very positive. I watched the trailer provided by the movie website and it looks good and Gerry, of course, looks define and in full Gerry glory! That man! Like I said before, I'll have to see the movie twice, the first time I will be just watching Gerry and oblivous to everything else. Then I'll have to watch it again to see the movie!


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I had a chance to see RocknRolla today and I think the review was spot on! Every character in the film seemed to be perfectly cast, but Gerry stole every scene he was in. I really hope everyone stays through the closing credits, because they were hilarious!!

PS: It was nice to know Tandy could be as big a dancing Goober as Gerry in their dance scene.....too funny!!!

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RocknRolla was great! I loved it! Can't wait to see it again! I have to work this weekend, but Good Sport and I will be going to see it on Monday or Tuesday. I know he'll love it!

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