Let’s face it, Guy Ritchie has never been able to live up to his explosive debut, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He came close with Snatch, sure. But each film he’s done since has been a worse reimagining of those first two.
RocknRolla is no different. Here we get Ritchie’s usually mash-up of crooks and gangsters. There’s a bald and fat Tom Wilkinson as a high-level mob guy who controls the real estate market. The badguys who work for him, (and subsequently rip him off… twice.) The cool, calm and collected Russian. The junkie rock star. And on and on.
RocknRolla, while mildly entertaining, is still muddled with Ritchie clichés. His characters go off on long, pointless monologues about things like crawfish, and his violence is drawn out and tiring.
So, what’s good about it? Criminally sexy British actress, Thandie Newton is radiant as a crooked accountant. She gives vibrancy to a seemingly throwaway role. Another actress may have made this character forgettable, not Newton. You can’t take your eyes off her.
And there’s Mark Strong as Wilkinson’s right-hand man. Strong is known for his villains (he tore off George Clooney’s fingernail in Syriana). I actually enjoyed Strong in this. His sly gestures and swift smacks to the face almost kept RocknRolla afloat. Almost. C-