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It’s hard to keep up with well-made ‘RocknRolla’



Published: Thu, November 13, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Robert W. Butler

The gangster film lacks feeling.

Like his earlier “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” Guy Ritchie’s “RocknRolla’ is a multi-character high-speed cruise through the London underworld marked by audacious use of the camera and a fluid narrative style.

It’s been well cast and well made. It’s also devoid of anything like real feeling.

The plot is too convoluted to examine in detail. Basically, One Two (Gerard Butler) and his pal Mumbles (Idris Elba) are deep in debt to underworld boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson with a shaved pate).

One Two’s girlfriend, Stella (Thandie Newton, looking devastating as a well-heeled lawyer), informs him that Lenny is borrowing millions from Russian gangster Uri (Karel Roden). One Two intercepts not only the money but also Uri’s precious “good luck” painting, which the Russian is lending to Lenny as a show of good faith.

Lenny goes ballistic, not so much over the loss of the money as the painting. If he cannot return it to Uri, a bloody gang war will ensue.

The painting (we see only the back of it) and the cash pass from hand to hand while Lenny’s thugs tear the city apart searching for them.

Along the way we are introduced to a couple dozen characters, among them Lenny’s estranged former rock star son (Tony Kebbell), a city functionary on the take (Jimi Mistry), Lenny’s supersuave lieutenant (Mark Strong) and a couple of music producers (Jeremy Piven, Ludacris) inexplicably sucked into the mess.

There are some moments of humor and action, but few of the players are onscreen long enough to establish a genuine character. This movie is like a kid with attention deficit disorder.


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