Long before Guy Ritchie became Madonna’s ex-hubby and Sherlock Holmes’ present visionary, he was known for one thing: highly entertaining if somewhat incomprehensible crime films set in the British underworld. “RocknRolla” is the latest among the trend Ritchie started in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” and perhaps the last for a while since Ritchie is already busy preparing “Sherlock Holmes 2.” Like most of Ritchie’s movies, “RocknRolla” is far too convoluted, far too sprawling, and ultimately, far too much fun.
What starts as a simple under-the-table real estate scheme between old-school English mobster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and Russian crime boss Uri (Karel Roden) quickly erupts into sheer chaos when Uri’s money is stolen along with a priceless painting. Before either come to light, the plot crosses paths with Stella (Thandie Newton), Uri’s beautiful and secretive accountant, a blue-collar gang of crooks known as the Wild Bunch (consisting of Gerard Butler, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy), Lenny’s rockstar stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) and his former record producers (Ludacris and Jeremy Piven). Caught up in all of this is the film’s narrator Archy (Mark Strong), Lenny’s loyal aid-de-camp, who is also searching for a treacherous mole in Lenny’s organization.
Like most Guy Ritche movies, “RocknRolla” is enjoyable because of the kinetic style and energetic enthusiasm it produces. Whether it’s the Wild Bunch tangling with Uri’s heavily-armed mercs or Archy uncovering who the nasty little leak is, “RockRrolla” always finds ways to keep you on your toes. Ritchie’s cinematic style submerges the viewers in the emotions of his protagonists as they traverse the gritty London underworld. While the results aren’t always clear, they are at the very least exciting.
The problem is there is far too much going on for too many characters, and this becomes mind-blowingly frustrating towards the film’s finale. The fate of one character is left completely and utterly unresolved thanks to the ever-twisting plot. It would have been one thing if Ritchie was purposely ambiguous to leave some things up to viewer interpretation, but with a plot as complex and detailed as this one, that just isn’t possible. The credits mention a sequel – “The Real RocknRolla” – but with Guy Ritchie busy on “Sherlock Holmes 2″, his comic adaptation “Gamekeeper” and perhaps even a remake of “Excalibur” (no joke), that seems highly unlikely, leaving everything hanging on this single scatterbrained script.
Thought not as cohesive as “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” or “Snatch,” “RocknRolla” is still a pretty fun movie to watch for a pretty low price. Provided you don’t let the movie’s endless supply of characters, plot twists or plot holes get to you, “RocknRolla” is the perfect movie to watch while drinking a cold one and being thankful you’re not being chased by the Russian mob. (And if you are being chased by the Russian mob, you can never have enough ideas.)
You can buy “RocknRolla” from DeepDiscount for $5.99 shipped.