“It’s not like the Old Country. It’s Cowboys and Indians out here.” In the London of RocknRolla, that means Crime Lords and RocknRollas. RocknRollas are the young thugs who want sex, drugs, wealth, “the whole lot.”
Just when one feels done with Guy Ritchie’s brand of fast-talking capers, his new comedy about criminal-power-struggle turns into a supremely entertaining kick. Granted, it takes time getting there. As Ritchie introduces his cast of dregs through whip pans, joke soundbites and connections that go out of their way to seem confusing, familiarity sinks in.
The resounding joke is that every character, rich and poor, wants to appear as a villainous authority figure. Ritchie gets his cheapest but biggest crowd-pleasing moment with a junkie’s violent retribution on a club bouncer who mistreated him. Overlord of the underworld Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) keeps stating that he owns the city, until the thugs working for him want to show him who’s boss.
RocknRolla’s pulp fiction only glamorizes crime when it gets hired gun One Two (Gerard Butler) in bed with a seductive accountant (Thandie Newton). Whenever Ritchie gets rolling, such as in a botched murder attempt turned public street fight, RocknRolla is frantic and funny. By removing the glory, it finds the thrill and humour in crime stories.