Guy Ritchie just keeps taking one hit after another. After unleashing a few cult classics around the turn of the millennium, Ritchie's films have ranged from forgettable to downright bad. Combined with the fact that his now ex-wife may or may not have been sleeping around with Alex Rodriguez, his life is just not looking up at the moment. His latest film, RocknRolla, is thankfully his best movie in years, though it still leaves something to be desired.
RocknRolla is about a couple of mob bosses named Lenny and Uri (Tom Wilkinson and Karel Roden) who strike up an under-the-table real estate deal. Unfortunately, Uri's accountant (Thandie Newton) is stealing from her boss with the help of two unknowing grunts-for-hire (Idris Elba and Gerard Butler), who also own Lenny money, which leads Uri to suspect that Lenny is trying to dupe him out of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Lenny's drugged-out stepson steals a painting that Uri has given Lenny, so Lenny sends his men to hunt down the loser of a kid. As with all Guy Ritchie films, RocknRolla quickly spirals out of control from there.
While the movie is complex, RocknRolla may be Ritchie's safest film to date. Gone are a lot of Ritchie's frenetic directing traits, replaced with a glossier, more stable approach that makes the movie feel more mainstream - but also makes it feel longer and slower. RocknRolla is nearly two hours long, and had 15 or 20 minutes been shaved from the running time, it would have been perfect. It's a smart film with good acting and a clever screenplay, but it suffers from pacing issues. Without Ritchie's crazy camera work, there are a few dull sequences or stretches that come off as overly long.
Still, those looking for an edgy, complex crime-comedy-thriller should look no further than RocknRolla. It has enough laughs, crazy characters and bloodshed to satisfy. Butler and Wilkinson turn in great performances, and thankfully Newton isn't doing her Condoleeza impression here. In fact, she looks downright smoking.
RocknRolla should satisfy Guy Ritchie fans, but the movie still doesn't give the director his chance to jump back into the mainstream. A further return to his roots would do him well - and perhaps a guest appearance by Brad Pitt.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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