Monday, October 06, 2008


Those who love Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels,” think he misfired with “Swept Away” and “Revolver,” and long for him to finally mature as a filmmaker will probably be about half-satisfied with his latest, “RocknRolla.” On the positive, it’s a return to form for Ritchie, and his most entertaining, compelling, convoluted film since “Snatch.” Not so universally pleasing, however, is that it emulates almost everything that worked, down to specific plot elements and character types, about “Lock, Stock” and “Snatch” (which some thought was already Ritchie repeating itself). That might be a roadblock in declaring it ‘original’ or ‘innovative,’ but when a movie is this rip-roaringly fun and filled with violence, plot turns, awesome rock songs and juicy characters, it’s tough to say that it’s not at least worth a watch.

The movie starts off with a handful of plot strands, keeps introducing characters, and then begins to spiral out of control – it’s only when you start to give up on following shit and just enjoy the ride that the movie, against all odds, ties things together and reveals there’s been a method to the madness all along. As per one of Ritchie’s proven specialties, there are fun characters abound, notably mob kingpin – a la Brick Top in “Snatch” – Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and likeable criminal protag – a la Turkish in “Snatch – One Two (Gerard Butler). However, the movie is all but stolen by Toby Kebbell as hard-living, presumed dead rocker Johnny Quid; while mildly reminiscent, in theory, of Brad Pitt’s Mickey in “Snatch,” Kebbell is the movie’s single greatest attribute, lending to the character elements of danger, wit and sympathy, often within the same scene. At the end of the day, I may not love the familiarity, but I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of Ritchie’s sense of style. While it may not make for the most diverse oeuvre, and it’s starting to appear that this kind of movie is all that Ritchie knows how to do properly, as long as the quality doesn’t wane or get repetitively aggrandizing or generic, I’m okay with that.

"RocknRolla" opens this Wednesday in NYC and LA, and nationwide Friday 10/31.


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