Aww, poor Guy Ritchie, don’t feel bad about breaking up with Madonna. She’s old and her music sucks. Plus, now you can go back to making wisecracking cockney crime capers instead of inflicting Swept Away and such on audiences around the world. Everybody wins!
Firmly back in Lock, Stock territory, Ritchie’s latest revolves around a real estate scam and a valuable painting that puts millions up for grabs in the London underworld. Soon enough, gangsters, junkies, opportunists and even a dead rock star are coming out of the woodwork for a shot at the cash. It’s a busy, cluttered multi-narrative story and it takes a while for the wheels of war to be set in motion while everything is being set up. Once it does though, RocknRolla serves up a familiarly fast paced, witty brand of gangster shenanigans.
Even though the story is contrived and has a ‘been there before’ quality if you’ve seen Ritchie’s previous work, there’s plenty of upside to overcome this and keep you entertained. The entire cast step up with a palpable enthusiasm towards their roles that keeps on-screen energy levels high throughout. Ritchie’s also slotted back into his old style like he never left, finding interesting ways to merge visual flash with a pounding soundtrack. These elements infuse the film with an urgency and momentum that overcomes the shonky script and successfully realises the majority of action and comic scenarios.
It may just be lightweight popcorn entertainment for grown ups, but RocknRolla knows it and uses that status as an excuse to have as much fun as it can. Its all style over substance, but you’ll leave smiling.