First published on 17 Oct 2008. Updated on 3 Feb 2009.
Wrong-footed by the new credit-crunch zeitgeist, but with recovered
fluency after the hiccups of Revolver and Swept Away, director Guy Ritchie's
latest returns to the caper comedy antics of unreconstructed London
criminals familiar from his earlier Lock, Stock... and Snatch.
'headmaster of the old-school' villain seems a little tired, no match
for the chutzpah of Gerard Butler's droll 'One Two', one of the pair of
the smaller-timers he employs to obtain a painting belonging to a bent football-loving Russian billionaire, with whom the old
gangster is co-operating on a real-estate scam. Matters are further
complicated - that's an understatement - by a plethora of
criss-crossing strands involving lethally glamorous lawyer Thandie Newton, ghostly coke-head Toby Kebbell and trans-Atlantic music co-producers Ludacris and Jeremy Piven.
its putatively 'strong' women characters, RocknRolla is still
basically 'geezer cinema', concocted to Ritchie's habitual formula:
gangster-land parody packed out with well-mounted action sequences,
slick visuals, flashcard editing,
eclectic scoring and some funny hard-man
patter. Allowing for
its air of laddish self-congratulation and its sad whiff of homophobia, Ritchie's film is arguably his most
entertaining to date. With its cheeky wit, non-PC provocations,
cock-eyed class-consciousness and cheerful irreverence it could be the
closest thing to Ealing comedy we're offered these days.