RocknRolla (2008) Guy Ritchie’s Ode to New and Old London


Poster for RocknRolla
I will admit, I adore Guy Ritchie’s films, even the ones that have been bashed by the media (that’s spelt critics by the way) and have done ever since hearing a “behind the scenes” tale from my old agent. It goes something like this:

“One of my other clients got cast to be in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and we were both very pleased. Later, after he’d finished his bit he explained what was really shot versus what had been in the script.” Lennie paused and shaking his head continued.

“The pages he had originally had a bit in the pub which was around three pages long, about three minutes on screen roughly, and it was all quite convoluted, a lot like rest of the film. Clever interaction between my client and the chaps in the pub. It was to end with him getting a facefull of brandy and being set on fire. According to him, the budget was so tight that the scene kept getting smaller and smaller until it was just him being set on fire and running out of the pub!”

All this long apocryphal anecdote says is that Guy did not let the lack of money stop his using an actor he’d hired for the scene. His vision, and the implied loyalty to his cast dictated that he keep at least part of the brandy scene in and he did. You have to admire that, just as one has to admire his lifelong love affair with London.

Anyone who has been in London over the last 30 or so years can see just how much it has changed. Canary Wharf, the docklands, and South London to name a few locations which stand out the most as being very different from what they were in the early 80s. The fact that the film is, according to Ritchie, partly about the property prices skyrocketing out of control, (To the point where honest Brits have found themselves forced out of the market.) again, rings true to those who lived in Britain over the last 30 years.

Maggie Thatcher’s “right to own” opened the floodgates in the housing market and her selling off of council houses left the door wide open for big money to own property and for the little folks to slowly get pushed out of the equation. Ritchie’s film is not about Britain, however, it is about London.

Relying upon the same formula used in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch, RocknRolla has that same feel minus Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones. Although the film is enjoyable, I admit that I loved it despite his use of Tom Wilkinson as Lennie who should clearly have been played by Mike Reid (Snatch, Eastenders).

Having said that, the cast, including Wilkinson, were superb. Tom Hardy, Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton all delivered. I was surprised to find that the comedic points in the film made me laugh as much as those in ‘Two Barrels’ did. The bit with Hardy, Butler, and later, Elba and the whole “he was going inside for 5 years” schtick had me in hysterics.

The one actor who really went above and beyond was, of course, the brilliant Toby Kebbell. Only he could have pulled off the role of Johnny Quid with his various ups and downs. The actor had me in stitches in the lift scene with Archie (Strong) and his, “Don’t hurt me Archie! I’m only little!”

Kebbell is a dynamo and his timing and delivery in all his films is beyond impeccable. I would say that my only complaint, apart from the lack of Mike Reid, is that there should have been a lot more of Toby. While this should have been a #tbt review, I could not wait to write my thoughts down after watching the bargain basement blu-ray copy last night.

A 5 out of 5 stars and a good reminder that Guy Ritchie still has the chops despite a few misfires.

11 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Published by

Mike's Film Talk

Actor, Writer, Vlogger, Blogger, Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Member Nevada Film Critics Society

6 thoughts on “RocknRolla (2008) Guy Ritchie’s Ode to New and Old London”

  1. I know it’s bad but I’ve seen the scenes tom hardy was in on Youtube. I really liked those so I guess I should woman up and finally watch the rest of this.

    Like

    1. It really is a splendid film and Thandie Newton rocks as the crooked accountant as well, I think I managed to completely overlook her in the review! Too busy telling the anecdote… ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and having a chat Angie! ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers.

      Like

  2. A big fan of Guy Ritchie’s work, too. Had a dip there for awhile in quality. Then, thankfully, divorced Madonna and that righted the ship. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love this movie!

    Like

    1. Oddly enough I always felt it was his marriage to Madonna, or Madge as the tabloids called her in England, that messed up the quality of his films! This is right up there with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, a great trilogy and I’d love to see the promised sequel although I thing Idris Elba and Tom Hardy, not to mention Mark Strong, are miles too busy for a rematch. Out of the lot, only Gerard Butler would presumably be free. Toby Kebbell might as well but only because Hollywood has not figured out what a great actor he is!

      Like

    1. He si a British phenomenom. He also directed the first Sherlock Holmes in 2009 with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Ritchie was married to Madonna for awhile and it really buggered up his output for a time! LOL RocknRolla was his re=entry into decent filmmaking!

      Like

Let me know what you think!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s