Great title for a gangster flick. Too bad that writer-director Guy Ritchie only partially realizes the sizzling potential. The movie has a good thing going in scrappy Gerard Butler, who trades in his 300 swords and sandals to play One Two, a guppy scam artist in London real estate hoping to learn from the great white shark, Lenny Cole (the slumming but ever wonderful Tom Wilkinson). All types of hoods enter the fray, with Thandie Newton the sexiest as a crooked accountant, Mark Strong the most intriguing as Lenny's wingman, Toby Kebbell the most dangerous as Lenny's punk-junkie stepson, Nonso Anozie the most irresistible as a whale-size hood who fancies fine art and Merchant Ivory films, and Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges the most negligible as rock promoters in a crammed cast of characters. Ritchie, falling just short of his best work (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch), is still flying way above the mud of Revolver and the fiasco of Swept Away (with wife Madonna). RocknRolla is a kickass crime drama that just doesn't know to quit while it's ahead.
From The Archives Issue 123: December 7, 1972