Review: Rockn Rolla (2008)

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Rockn Rolla (2008)

Directed by: Guy Ritchie | 114 minutes | thriller, comedy, crime | Actors: Nonso Anozie, Gemma Arterton, David Bark-Jones, Geoff Bell, Morne Botes, Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Toby Kebbell, Matt King, David Leon, Ludacris, Roland Manookian, Dragan Micanovic, Jimi Mistry, Thandie Newton , Jeremy Piven, Karel Roden, Mark Strong, Bronson Webb, Tom Wilkinson

Why do we enjoy action and gangster movies so much? Most of us are people who keep the law and our religious Commandments. We try to earn our money as honestly as possible and we take into account our fellow man. We give money to developing countries and maybe even volunteer to help solve social problems such as poverty and inequality or environmental degradation.

In any case, we are not living the life of a reckless, money-hungry gambling and drug-loving power-hungry, who loves nothing more than to spend money he stole from others and who is really only interested in eating, drinking, slacking off, sex and even more money, preferably earned as easily as possible, no matter with what. We can’t or don’t want to identify with such irresponsible types, can we? However? However? Guy Ritchie knows better. He may not be a criminal (as far as we know), but if you’re (or have been?) married to Madonna, then the label “civil” probably won’t apply to your life. It is also known that as a youngster he was suspended from an exclusive school for drugs and sexual escapades, well, he does not make those stories out of his thumb. Virtually all the characters in his films move in the shadow side of our society and Ritchie manages to package it all so wonderfully that we are mesmerized for two hours by all that filth, which is oh so delicious. And of course the real gangster life is mainly filled with stress and anxiety, you have to be constantly on your guard and the chances of reaching retirement age are very small, at least outside of prison. But who cares, you don’t build up a pension anyway.

‘Rocknrolla’ is Richie’s fourth gangster film, in the typical comic strip style with flashy editing, which we first got to know with his 1998 hit ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, followed two years later by the perhaps even more genius ‘ Snatch’, in which an unforgettable Brad Pitt steals the show. ‘RocknRolla’ doesn’t have any roles that stand out; here it is the ensemble that steals the show. Everyone is at their best and the fun radiates from it. The hip design is not over the top, also more moderate than in its illustrious predecessors, but the film has a few other big pluses: the screenplay is flawless and the direction is more mature than before, Ritchie seems to have grown. The network of characters and (story)lines – and there are quite a few as usual – is carefully constructed without being too transparent, so that the build-up of the tension is almost perfect. In other words: on the edge of your seat from start to finish. This man knows how to do it.

‘RocknRolla’ is a delicious cocktail of forbidden fruits. Nicely wrong and yet good. Hard, but not too hard, funny, but not stupid comedy. And after the movie you walk out of the cinema with a big smile and you feel recharged to disappear into good citizenship for a while. And let’s hope Guy Ritchie comes out with another movie soon that gives you the feeling that being naughty is wonderful. That sequel is already in the works: at the end we are left with a few loose ends, but we are assured that they will be solved in the unfinished second part of ‘Rocknrolla’, wicked!

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