ROCKNROLLA written and directed by Guy Ritchie, with Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson and Jeremy Piven. A Warner Brothers release. 114 minutes. Now playing. For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Mr. Madonna has swept away the last 10 years - and the memory of two very, very bad films - with a big-bollocks gangster movie set in the sex, thugs and rock 'n' roll world of Lock, Stock and Snatch.
RocknRolla isn't as good as the movies that put Guy Ritchie on the map and spawned a sub-genre of smartass British crime movies. The opening 15 minutes are a knot of whip pans, smash cuts and machine gun patter that's supposed to set up the plot - something about shady real estate developers, Russian mobsters and two-bit hoods trying to make a buck - but who can keep track? Never mind.
Things quickly settle down, Ritchie finds a familiar groove, and the motor just hums. Careening though the London underworld, we meet a charming rogues' gallery: One Two (who can neither box nor dance), Mumbles (who clearly doesn't), Handsome Bob and Johnny Quid, the genuine rocknrolla of the title.
If you thought the Joker found a creative use for a no. 2 pencil, you should check out Johnny Quid's skillz. The closing credits even promise a sequel. Welcome back, Mr. Ritchie.