RocknRolla Made in: Great Britain Language: English Director: Guy Ritchie Starring: Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Karel Roden, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jimi Mistry, Gemma Arterton Year: 2008
Synopsis: London crime boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) is a real estate mogul whose connected to just about every major building project in the city. Protected by a circle of thugs and with an army of politicians and legal officials in his pocket, he can make or break multi-million euro deals with a single phone call. His right-hand man is Archy (Mark Strong), a stone-cold and ruthless professional who also narrates the story.
The fun begins when Lenny seals a seven million euro deal with high-class Russian mobster Uri Omovich (Karel Roden), who plans to build an arena. As a sign of good faith, Uri loans Lenny a painting. Uri's lucky painting, to be exact.
What Uri doesn't know is that his own accountant, Stella (Thandie Newton), has arranged the seven million to be promptly intercepted and stolen by an underground group of ex-cons known as the Wild Bunch, led by One-Two (Gerard Butler) and his best pal Mumbles (Idris Elba).
Soon after, Lenny finds that the painting Uri loaned him has been stolen from right under his nose. The perpetrator is Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), an eccentric, intelligent, but drug-addicted rock star who recently faked his own death for the umpteenth time in order to boost record sales. And Johnny is none other than Lenny's stepson.
Lenny then threatens Johnny's managers, Roman (Jeremy Piven) and Mickey (Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris), to find his stepson or else he'll shut down all their venues.
When a second attempt to rob Uri goes wrong, the stakes get higher as paths cross, confusion ensues, and plots start to twist.
The Good: RocknRolla is very entertaining, has great energy, and is full of clever dialogue. It's reminiscent of earlier Guy Ritchie films such as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Fortunately, it's a vast improvement upon the disappointing Revolver.
Gerard Butler is a lot of fun to watch, as is the rest of the cast. Tom Wilkinson is comfortable as a villain, and Toby Kebbell is another stand-out as the junkie rock star, Johnny Quid.
Guy Ritchie pretty much as all the bases covered here: A multitude of fascinating characters that are neither over or under-used, a tight storyline, good action, witty one-liners, and plenty of smart humor. Although the film stands well on its own, it is the first of a planned trilogy.
The Bad: The first few minutes are a little confusing, but you should be able to follow the plot by the time Gerard Butler pulls off the first heist.
Who would like this movie: RocknRolla is one for fans of gangster/heist movies. Although it's a solid film overall, it's contains all the familiar Guy Ritchie trademarks (convoluted plot, quick editing, gangster stuff, intersecting storylines, etc).
As far as foreign films go, this one received mainstream distribution in the US so you might have heard of it already. RocknRolla might have been shown alongside Hollywood movies at your local cineplex, but it's got a look and feel that'll make you ask: "Why can't more American movies be this cool?"