Review: RocknRolla Means Guy Ritchie Never Left

"Definite flashes of goodness, quick cuts mingled with nice music and clever biting dialogue."


We all have friends that we worry about. You know, guys and girls who just seem a little ... off. For instance, they'll do things like marry Madonna. Or they'll make gems like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels before skulking off to the shadows only to foist Swept Away and Revolver on us. Hey, it happens. We've all been there. We don't judge. We just want our friend back.

I once questioned whether Guy Ritchie was dead. In hindsight, this was poor form. He wasn't dead. He was just buried. Whether the starlet did it to him or not is of no consequence -- what is consequential is that RocknRolla is legitimate. It's a real film. Perfect? Mmmm, no. Not exactly. But definite flashes of goodness, quick cuts mingled with nice music and clever biting dialogue. This is a very good thing. It means that the next phase of Guy's life might add up to something more than sidekickdom.

RocknRolla, the term, is essentially a guy who loves sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. He not only loves 'em, but revels in -- and seeks both personal and neighborly destruction through -- those means too. This character is played by Toby Kebbell in the film. He's the rocker stepson of a mobster, a mobster who controls various elements of British government to facilitate real estate profits. Enter Gerard Butler as "One Two" and Thandie Newton as the accountant to a Russian thug / real estate mogul. One Two unwittingly becomes involved in various sides of a robbery with both the Russian and British mobster. Typical Guy R., right?

The rest of the cast is aces too. Jeremy Piven and Ludacris weigh in as music agents. Idris Elba (who is fantastic as Stringer Bell in The Wire) is One Two's partner. Tom Wilkinson is excellent as the aforementioned British gangster. Bond girl Gemma Arterton has a bit part. It seems as though Guy has called in some favors and assembled a murderer's row.

Additionally, the music is delightful -- heavy on standards like Lou Reed and The Clash and generally juxtaposed with slo-mo slots of illicit and dirty deeds. It's hard not to like Ritchie's style. He's like a DJ in that sense. You either dig him dance or you probably wouldn't have shown up to the club in the first place.

Does the film have a few problems? Sure. My guess is it's not completely logical, though that's well-hidden under the layers of cool. RocknRolla is also highly derivative of his other popular work, though you could say the same about many films from pop culture icons like Tim Burton or Guillermo Del Toro. A unique visual and storytelling method isn't something to knock, though. Guy Ritchie is back and breathing. Glory be.

Grade: B

Movie & TV Awards 2018