Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Guy Ritchie|
|Written by||Guy Ritchie|
|Music by||Steve Isles|
|Edited by||James Herbert|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$30 million|
RocknRolla is a 2008 action crime film written and directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Gemma Arterton and Toby Kebbell. It was released on 5 September 2008 in the United Kingdom, hitting number one in the UK box office in its first week of release.
In London, mob boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) rules the ever-growing real estate business, using a corrupt Councillor (Jimi Mistry) for bureaucratic fixing, and his right-hand man Archy (Mark Strong) for the dirty side of things. A billionaire Russian businessman, Uri Omovich (Karel Roden), plans a fixed land deal, and London's crooks seem to all want a piece of it — particularly Uri's underhanded accountant Stella (Thandie Newton), and a gang called "The Wild Bunch" led by small-time crook "One-Two" (Gerard Butler), his partner "Mumbles" (Idris Elba), and their driver, "Handsome Bob" (Tom Hardy).
Uri agrees to Lenny's price of €7,000,000 to grease the Council's wheels, and as a sign of trust, loans him his "lucky painting." Yet when Uri arranges for Stella to move the funds, she double-crosses him and hires the Wild Bunch to steal the money. Unfortunately for Lenny, however, his junkie stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), supposedly dead, steals the painting from Lenny's wall. Lenny and Archy then coerce Johnny's American managers Mickey (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Roman (Jeremy Piven) into tracking down Johnny. In a subplot, Handsome Bob gets close to Stella's gay husband, a lawyer who has information on a longtime unknown informer in their criminal circle whose information has Bob looking at a five-year prison term.
Uri tasks Stella once more with covertly siphoning the necessary payoff from his holdings, and grows increasingly enamoured with her. When his moneymen are once again robbed by the Wild Bunch, his assistant Victor convinces him that it's likely Lenny who is behind the robberies, and is also purposely keeping Uri's lucky painting from him. Uri & Victor then invite Lenny to a private golf game on a golf course owned by Uri, where Victor beats him savagely with a golf club, finishing by breaking Lenny's leg as a warning to him.
Cookie (Matt King) happens to buy the painting from some crackheads who had just stolen it from Johnny's hideout. Cookie then gives the painting to One-Two who, in turn, offers the painting to Stella (after a sexual encounter) as a token of appreciation. After Stella leaves his flat, One-Two is surprised by Uri's henchmen but is rescued, and then kidnapped, by Archy and his goons who had come looking for Uri's money.
Uri wants to marry Stella, whom he has long admired. He goes to Stella's house to propose, but he then spots the painting. Stella lies and says she has had it for years. Uri, enraged by Stella's betrayal, orders Victor to kill her.
Archy brings Johnny, Roman, Mickey and the Wild Bunch to Lenny's warehouse where Lenny orders Johnny executed. He threatens to kill the Wild Bunch "very slowly" unless they give up the money they stole. Handsome Bob offers the legal documents concerning the informant in his pocket to Archy. Archy recognises the pseudonym used on the documents, "Sidney Shaw", as belonging to Lenny. Lenny arranged the police to routinely lock up many criminal associates (including Archy) for years at a time to enhance his own standing in the criminal underworld and to ensure his own freedom. Archy orders Lenny's men to free the Wild Bunch and has Lenny drowned and fed to crayfish.
In the lift, Johnny explains to Roman and Mickey that they will also be killed to leave no witnesses, and graphically explains the manner of their executions. His description unnerves the man who's to execute the three men, prompting him to act prematurely. Having also already anticipated this move, Johnny warns Mickey and Roman to intervene and kill their would-be executioner. Johnny shoots two more men waiting at the top of the lift and they escape the last of Archy's men (with help from One-Two and the Wild Bunch).
Later, Archy picks up Johnny from rehab and gives Johnny Uri's lucky painting as a welcome home present. Archy says that obtaining the painting "cost a very wealthy Russian an arm and a leg" implying he had Uri killed. Johnny proclaims that, with his new-found freedom from addiction and from his stepfather, he will do what he could not before: "become a real RocknRolla".
In May 2007, director Guy Ritchie announced the production of RocknRolla, to be produced by Ritchie's own company, Toff Guy Films, Joel Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment, and French company StudioCanal, with distribution by Warner Bros. The following June, Ritchie hired the cast for RocknRolla, and filming began on location in London on 19 June 2007. Two scenes were filmed at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire: the opening scene on the grass tennis courts, and the round of golf which takes place on the 21st green with the impressive clubhouse in the background.
Critical reaction to the film has been mixed, with 60% positive out of 147 reviews on the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.98/10. The critical consensus states: "Mixed reviews for Guy Ritchie's return to his London-based cockney wideboy gangster movie roots, but most agree, it's a step in the right direction following two major turkeys." The website Metacritic, which compiles and then aggregates major film critics' reviews, gave the film a 53 out of 100, which is categorised as having mixed or average reviews. While the film's unoriginal themes were criticised, the script and direction, as well as the performances of Strong, Butler and Kebbell, were praised.
IGN gave the film a positive review with four out of five stars, saying "[Guy Ritchie is] hardly re-inventing the wheel with this movie, but RocknRolla is nonetheless a comedy thriller that is every bit as accomplished as his early work, and without doubt a witty, adrenaline-fuelled blast from start to finish." Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, stating that "It never slows down enough to be really good, and never speeds up enough to be the Bourne Mortgage Crisis, but there's one thing for sure: British actors love playing gangsters as much as American actors love playing cowboys, and it's always nice to see people having fun."
The film hit No. 1 at the UK box office in its first week of release.
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||30 September 2008|
|Genre||Rock, reggae, garage rock, funk, indie rock, hard rock, Latin, beat|
|Guy Ritchie film soundtracks chronology|
Newton revealed that Ritchie stated that he hopes to extend RocknRolla into a trilogy, in the event that the film receives enough positive attention. At the end of the film there is a title card stating "Johnny, Archy and the Wild Bunch will be back in The Real RocknRolla". According to both the audio commentary and an interview with Ritchie, the second film has been written and is awaiting studio approval.
In a 2011 interview, promoting Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, when asked about a possible RocknRolla sequel, Ritchie said "You know, I've spent a lot of time thinking about it! I've written a script, I think it's a great script, and Joel (Silver) wants to pay for me to do it. But up until now we haven't had the time to do it. It's sitting there and we'd all like to do it, it's just a question of when we're going to fit it in. So we'll wait and see." He also mentioned that as long as Warner Bros. keeps throwing him "big movies like the Sherlock Holmes films and The Man from UNCLE, then it may not be happening soon."
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