Friday, October 24, 2008

How do I sign up to be a RockNRolla?

The action comedy RockNRolla, takes a dangerous ride into high crime and low life in contemporary London, where real estate has supplanted drugs as the biggest market, and criminals are its most enthusiastic entreprenuers. But for anyone looking to get in from small-time crook One Two (Gerard Butler) to shady Russian billionaire Uri Omovich (Karel Roden) theres only one man to see : Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson). A Mobster from the old school, Lenny knows the right wheels to grease and has his hand on the throat of any bureacrat, broker or gangster. But as Lenny's right-hand man Archy (Mark Strong) tells him, London is ground zero for the changing times, with big-time mobsters from the East, hungry criminals from the streets, and everyone in-between, all vying to change the rules of commerce and crime.

Archy (Mark Strong), our narrator, works for London kingpin Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), who double-crosses charming thugs One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) on, of all things, a semi-lucrative real estate deal. As can be the case with Ritchie, this deal is the tip of a filthy, dirty iceberg that sweeps up Russian money-man Uri (Karel Roden), crooked accountant Stella (Thandie Newton), and One Two's loyal crew, the Wild Bunch. Ritchie, who wrote the Rock script, keeps us guessing which game will eventually take center stage. Will it be the house One Two and Mumbles hope to acquire? Or will it be the Euros Lenny owes to Yuri? How about Yuri's missing painting, which we're never shown (a la the glowing whatever-you-think-it-is in Marsellus Wallace's briefcase)? Or will Ritchie's focus fall on Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), Lenny's oft-mentioned rock star son-in-law with a debilitating drug habit? A scrawny drug addict who has faked his own death in an attempt to boost album sales, Johnny should be laying low but can't resist turning up to throw a wrench into his father's carefully laid plans. Kebbell so effectively steals this show. We're witnessing the birth of a star in Rock, as Kebbell unleashes a wild-card performance from his gut. When he's on screen, it's impossible to look away. And that's impressive when you consider the eye-catching insanity Ritchie attempts in Rock. One Two and Mumbles pull off the most gentle carjacking you'll see on screen this year. Later, they endure the longest (and strangest) footrace, as they are relentlessly pursued by unstoppable Russian war veterans. It's one of many scenes played for big laughs.Ritchie has gone back to writing lyrical dialogue, tough-guy poetry delivered by a hardened but extremely polished cast. And for the first time in a long time, you can understand almost every spoken word. Butler's quite at home in Ritchie's underbelly. Newton manages to be more than eye candy, and Kebbell's an exhilarating treat. With even stellar and memorable performances by co-stars Tom Hardy(as Wild Bunch member Handsome Bob), Jeremy Piven (Mickey), Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (as Roman, a HUGE step up from the disappointing Max Payne), Matt King (Cookie), and Jimi Mistry (The Councillor), just to name a few.
Near the end of the film, I realized I was going to miss these original characters. So, apparently, is Ritchie. A brazen title card dropped before the credits promises more adventures with Archy, Johnny, and the Wild Bunch. Even more good news for fans of Ritchie and RocknRolla. I can't wait! In the end RockNRolla does NOT disappoint. It does everything that it set out to do and more. Highly recommendable. A definite 5 on my "Go See" scale

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