'RocknRolla' - Movie Review

Rotten Tomatoes refers to this as "Guy Ritchie's return to his London-based cockney wideboy gangster movie roots," which I found mildly incomprehensible the first time I read it - mostly because of the word "wideboy." According to Wikipedia, "Wide boy is a British term for a man who lives by his wits, wheeling and dealing. ... The word 'wide' used in this sense means wide-awake or sharp-witted."

I never really "got" Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels:" I saw it, I understood it, but I was surprised by other people's enthusiasm for it. What bothered me was that there were a bunch of not terribly bright people (not nearly so "wide" as the slang term mentioned earlier) running around getting themselves and others into trouble, and then - through no intelligence or action of theirs, usually purely luck - they get back out of trouble. And the worst of the lot dies, which somehow implies that the lesser criminals we've been watching are "okay."

This time we follow the adventures of (among others) Mumbles (Idris Elba), One Two (Gerard Butler), and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy). And they're not stellar lights: they try to steal a car while the owner they booted from the car looks on ... still holding his keys. Elsewhere we follow Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and his right-hand man Archy (Mark Strong) as Lenny deals with Uri, the new Russian gangster in town (Karel Roden). Let's not forget Stella (Thandie Newton), Uri's crooked accountant, who deals with One Two occasionally. And then we watch as all their plans and schemes get hopelessly tangled together.

Got to give Ritchie credit for selecting a hell of an ensemble cast of rising stars: he caught Hardy just before his pay cheques ballooned, and likewise Elba. And I've seen Toby Kebbell in a couple other movies ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Wrath of the Titans") but never thought of him as anything more than comedy. Often very funny, but not a lot of acting going on. But here, while his tone was inconsistent, he ran the gamut from funny to pathetic to verging on terrifying - he did a good job.

The movie is intermittently amusing, but just like "Lock, Stock ..." obnoxious people get in trouble for things they didn't do (they did things - just not the ones they got in trouble for), and they get back out by luck. So if that's your taste, go to it - but I wasn't enthusiastic.