'RocknRolla' rocks

October 30, 2008 

You don’t just watch a Guy Ritchie movie. They are to be experienced.

Some circles consider his films more of an assault on the senses than exploration of plot. Ritchie’s characters roam the edge of society where greedy slimeballs make all the rules.

In RocknRolla Ritchie (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch) moves a dozen characters around and through a complex plot. Corruption, murder and mayhem are at its center. A Russian mobster pays off an English mobster to get a building project done. As a gesture of kindness, the Russian loans his good luck painting to the Brit.

It gets stolen. The bribery money for the project is taken in a heist. A drug-addled rock and roll star pretending to be dead is the story’s fulcrum. That is ironic because his story is supposed to be a balance point yet very little in Ritchie’s masterpiece is balanced.

But that’s why his films are so much fun.

More irony is found in a bald and almost unrecognizable Tom Wilkinson being the most recognizable and talented of Ritchie’s cast. He gets help from Gerard Butler (300) and Thandie Newton, and a plethora of excellent supporting actors.

Each character from the least important to the central figures is complex and perfectly cast.

Good acting is easy to find. Outrageous writing, the creative use of editing techniques and effects are not.

RocknRolla isn’t pretty. It’s a gritty, grinding mess. But with Guy Ritchie you expect no less. He says this is the first film of a trio with the same characters. Not to worry. You’re not going to be locked into having to see the next two. RocknRolla’s stands alone.

Also typical of a Ritchie project RocknRolla has a pulse-pounding soundtrack to punctuate the plot. And though it isn’t specifically about rock and roll, RocknRolla rocks. You haven’t had this much fun in a theater in a long time.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars

Rated R for mature themes, violence, language. It opens Friday at the Columbia Mall 8.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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