RocknRolla (2008)
A bit better than Swept Away... a bit
12 September 2008
The consensus seems to be amongst contributors here that RocknRolla is a 'return to form' for Guy Ritchie. I should point out at this point that I don't accept the premise that he had ever struck vein of 'form' in the first place. He did to some extent (and not necessarily to his credit) create a distinctive genre of British film with Smoking Barrels and Snatch and, in the sense that this is almost identical to those earlier films, RocknRolla it is certainly a return to something.

I'm a Londoner; my parents were Cockney and my grand-parents were Cockney (in fact my Auntie Elsie lived only a few streets away from Violet Kray), and as such I have always thought of Ritchie's Mockney gangster genre as the rather sad fantasy of a bored and insecure middle-class public schoolboy sitting in his 'dorm' reading "A Profession of Violence" and wishing that Mad Frankie Fraser was his dad and that Frankie would turn up in the senior common room one day and give a good slapping to all those rotten school bullies.

I've never found any of Ritchie's films funny and I certainly didn't laugh at RocknRolla. It's juvenile, has a silly plot and is too long as well. The characterisation is poor and the dialogue is annoying and dotted with the kind of toe-curling phony philosophising that would probably not even make it into a Kabala recruiting video.

Ritchie is a director of some technical skill but his limited imagination and interest in the human world at large means that he will never make a film outside this Mockney Gangster genre (Swept Away showed us the disaster that ensues when he tries). The fans are there for the Mockneys and I'm sure he'll continue to make more at ever lengthening intervals, probably with decreasing budgets and eventually going straight to DVD. They will all follow exactly the same formula and I won't sit through another.
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