RocknRolla defines its title as a supreme gangster interested in guns, drugs, sex and crime, though on the basis of its sloppy, dreary story, it also turns out to be a synonym for tedious genre crap made by second-rate British directors who, after disastrously attempting to expand their artistic horizons, have returned, tail between legs, to their Lock, Stock origins. Alas, Guy Ritchie seems to have lost even what little touch he once had, his latest a typically convoluted saga about strangely named big- and little-time crooks that’s fatally deficient in verve. Double-crosses, dirty curses and shiny firearms are all on incessant display, jazzed up by overblown rollercoaster cinematography, frantic editing and a (sufficiently rocking) soundtrack that gets very loud whenever something really, really crazy is about to happen. Ritchie’s plotting is so perfunctorily intricate and his characters so doggedly vapid—to call them cartoonish would be apt, though more than a little insulting to cartoons—that they all come off as interchangeable foul-mouthed cardboard cutouts striking routine funny-vile poses. The mishmash of incidents and crude homo-centric quips posing as a narrative revolves around a real estate deal between a London mob boss (Tom Wilkinson, walking like something is wedged up his ass) and a Russian businessman (Karel Roden) that goes sour thanks to wacky mishaps involving the Russian’s accountant (Thandie Newton), a crackhead rock star (Toby Kebbell), and a trio of tough guys known as the Wild Bunch. Gerard Butler is the leader of this threesome, though despite being the film’s nominal protagonist, he boasts not a single clearly identifiable personality trait. This means he’s only slightly less dimensional than RocknRolla, which affects an air of humorously nasty, snazzy cool yet feels, underneath its surface commotion, like the work of a director depressed over having to revisit such ’90s-era juvenilia. It’s nearly enough to make one wish for more Revolver. But not quite.
- Guy Ritchie
- Guy Ritchie
- Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Karel Roden, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
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