6 – RocknRolla
After two disastrous passion projects, Guy Ritchie decided to return to familiar ground to the criminal underworld of London. However, it’s not so much a peep into the underworld, and more of Russian oligarchs and multi-millionaire property developer’s working-ish alongside-ish London’s underworld. This blurring-ish between the two world’s never quite meshes for the whole film reeks of Ritchie scrambling back to area more familiar, only without the wit, the intrigue, or even the interesting set pieces from yesteryear.
The narrative has many plot lines going – securing land development deals, hunting down a junkie, lover interest between One Tow (Gerard Butler) and Stella (Thandie Newton) – but none hit full-swing due to the lackluster of interesting characters or dialogue. They speak either to forward the plot, or to speak in British sarcasm that is both forced and unfunny. There are some notable exceptions, notably from show-stealer Toby Kebbell as Johnny Quid, who portrays the rock-star-cum-junkie with self-confidence, humorous rhetoric, and violent outbursts that are akin to Ritchie’s earlier work – the usage of a sharpened pencil is a noteworthy touch.
Its larger budget means that the lavish environments, the car crashes, and the party scenes are all an attempt to mask its poor script. With a film void of anything memorable, one quickly appreciates Ritchie’s prior work for actually trying something different. In short, this hollow, forced mess that will remind audiences they should be watching Ritchie’s earlier work, and are glad he has left these sorts of characters behind him.