You'd think that being married to Madonna, Guy Ritchie would have picked up on the value of occasionally reinventing oneself. But no, he keeps making the same movie, the same ultra-cool exercises in British gangster violence and stylish criminal shenanigans, and RockNRolla is the latest entry. Then again, the one time he did try something different, the result was Swept Away, so maybe he's wise to stay in his comfort zone.
At any rate, RockNRolla inspires strong feelings of "meh" in me. It's not nearly as clever, funny, or stylish as Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, though the accents are a lot less indecipherable this time around, so that's nice. It's also not as good as Gangster No. 1 or Sexy Beast or many of the other gritty British gangster capers that have come around in the last several years. It feels like a rerun -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing, after all. People watch reruns all the time.
Our narrator is Archie (Mark Strong), who works as the calm, suave right-hand man to Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), the most powerful money-lender and underworld boss in London. Half the city's councilors, judges, and cops are in Lenny's pocket, and he has leveraged this influence into a massive fortune in real estate.
Lenny is not a figure to be messed with, but the Russians don't know that. A new mover and shaker named Uri (Karel Roden) has come to town to strike a deal with Lenny -- it involves paying Lenny to bribe city officials to get a construction project underway -- and he's a formidable figure himself. Lenny is old school; Uri is dangerously modern.