Reviewed by: Val Kermode

Ten years after Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie is back in business with RocknRolla. There’s no Madonna (Swept Away) and no pretension (Revolver). Ritchie seems to have realised what his public really want, so why not give us more? More fast-paced, fast-edited action set in a London full of lovable rogue gangsters with names like Mumbles, One Two and Tank, a plot full of scams and double crossing and a sexy, chain-smoking accountant (Thandie Newton).

Two of the dodgy geezers, One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba) borrow money from ganglord Lenny (Tom Wilkinson). He in turn is deep into his own dodgy property scam with a Russian oligarch (Karel Roden), who gives Lenny his “lucky painting” to seal a seven million quid deal. Guess what? The money disappears, the painting is stolen and there’s a traitor in the gang.

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Ritchie says he chose to make this about property crime because it’s “ meant to reflect contemporary England.” Well, maybe… He certainly makes good use of the backdrop of contemporary London, making it especially glittering by night and, in a nice touch, the Russian has his office in Wembley Stadium.

More of the same then, but this is entertaining and stylish stuff. Ritchie the writer loves putting unlikely words into the mouths of his characters - “How does he know a word like pseudonym?”. He does some clever things with subtitles, and gives us what must surely be one of the most economically filmed sex scenes ever. Most of the violence takes place off-screen with good use of sound, and the essential torture scene involves, er, American crayfish. There’s also a terrific score with original music by Steve Isles.

The two strongest performances are from Wilkinson as Lenny and the excellent Mark Strong as his enforcer, Archie. But this is definitely an ensemble piece, and I look forward to seeing more of these characters.

If I have one complaint, it’s the curious strand of homophobia at its heart. One Two is meant to be so straight that he’s the last to realise that his co-gangster, Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy), is gay. One amusing scene becomes a determinedly laboured running gag, an unnecessary hymn to laddishness. Let’s hope this is one feature that’s left out of the next part of what Ritchie hopes will eventually become a trilogy.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2008
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More gangster goings on from Guy Ritchie, this time centring on a property scam and a missing painting.
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Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Nonso Anozie, Charlotte Armer, Gemma Arterton, David Bark-Jones, Geoff Bell, Morne Botes, Gerard Butler, Jamie Campbell Bower, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Toby Kebbell

Year: 2008

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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