Guy Ritchies latest opens with a voiceover describing what it takes to make a real 'RockNRolla'. You can't just have sex, drugs, violence, music, death or debauchary; you have to have 'em all. Well here are a few things you need to make a good Guy Ritchie film. A London setting, 'Ard geezers, funny/clever dialogue, a 'lazy' voicover to explain the setup which disappears until its needed to explain the twists, nice gangsters and nasty gangsters, nothing mentioning Kabbalah, a cast full of 'oh he's that guy from that' and flashy camera work for the sake of having flashy camera work. RockNRolla nearly as 'em all.
I'll attempt to explain the plot but you may have to bear with me. Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) is the top dog London gangster. He's screwed Mumbles (Stringer Bell!!!!) and One-Two (Gerard Butler) over some property to the tune of 2 million quid. They get offered a job by accountant Stella (Thandie Newton), to steal an investment from a Russian billionaire meant for Lenny Cole. Lenny has also been loaned the Russians favourite possession a painting. A lucky painting. Unfortunately Lenny's stepson Johnny Quid, a rock and roll star, has stolen the lucky painting. Nobody can find it as Johnny Quid is supposed to be dead. Oh and Superhands is Cookie. Where exactly he fits in I'm still not too sure. But its weird seeing his face 30 foot tall.
As I said the above ingredients to make your perfect Guy Ritchie film are mainly all present and correct. Its just at times they're all a little too present and correct. While it'd be a little unfair to describe this as a Lock, Stock remake, there are plenty of similarities with the film that put mockney Guy on the map. If you replace the guns with a painting, a lucky painting, Nick Morans four with Gerard Butlers Wild Bunch and the weed obsessed students with the junkie rock stars, you may at times feel like you've seen it all before. As for Tom Wilkinson's Lenny he's just a bit hairier and a few feet taller than Bob Hoskin's Harry Shand from The Long Good Friday. All London Pride, big hopes and short fuse.
Where the film starts to gain originality is in the scenes that, at first, don't seem to fit. A subplot about a gay member of The Wild Bunch starts off sticking out like a pair of tits at a Village People gig but slowly gets turned round to something warm, affecting and above all funny. A flashback to the little Johnny Quid has a similar effect come the final payoff but the bits inbetween don't have the sense of fun that made Lock, Stock and Snatch stand out. Those were films that made you grin as you left the cinema, guilty pleasures to compare with QT. All directors need to be taken seriously at some point but it might take Guy a little longer to get the tone right. Being clear where are sympathies should lie would be a good starting point. Fortuntely though Johnny Quid and The Wild Bunch will return. Which means more Stringer Bell. Which means one happy me.