RocknRolla (2008)

RocknRolla is a 2008 British crime film written and directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell, Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Karel Roden, and Thandie Newton. It was released on 5 September 2008 in the UK, hitting #1 in the UK box office in its first week of release.


In London, the British mob boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) rules the growing real estate business using a corrupt Councillor (Jimi Mistry) for the bureaucratic services and his henchman Archy (Mark Strong) for the dirty work. The main characters are introduced in Archy’s opening voiceover (who acts as the narrator). A billionaire Russian businessman, Uri Omovich (Karel Roden), plans a crooked land deal, and London’s crooks all want a piece of it. Other key players include the underhand accountant Stella (Thandie Newton) and ambitious small-time crook One-Two (Gerard Butler) leading a group called the “Wild Bunch”.

Uri Omovich meets Lenny for a real estate business and Lenny charges seven-million Euros for the deal; Uri accepts, calls his accountant Stella to launder the necessary funds and lends his lucky painting to Lenny to bring success and fortune to their business. Stella, however, double-crosses Uri and hires The Wild Bunch to steal the money, while, at the same time, the lucky painting is stolen from Lenny’s wall by his “junkie” rocker stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell).

In an attempt to find Johnny, Lenny and Archy enlist his record producers Mickey (Chris Bridges) and Roman (Jeremy Piven) to help track him down. In order to gain leverage over them, Cole’s men make it clear that their concerts and clubs will be shut down if they do not comply.

Meanwhile, after Uri’s money is violently stolen by the Wild bunch a second time from a pair of Russian bodyguards, his assistant Victor begins to suspect that it’s Lenny who’s been stealing the money and purposely keeping Uri’s painting from him. This theory enrages Uri, who lures Lenny to a private golf game and has his legs broken, warning him to return his painting without delay.

Coincidentally, Cookie buys Uri’s lucky painting from some crackheads who had just stolen it from Johnny’s hideout. Cookie then gives the painting to One-Two, who, in turn, offers the painting to Stella (after a sexual encounter) as a token of appreciation for the work she has provided the gang. After Stella leaves his flat, One-Two is assaulted by Uri’s henchmen and is about to be subjected to torture but is rescued, and then kidnapped, by Archy who had come to his home upon finding out One-Two was involved in stealing Uri’s money.

Uri makes a decision regarding Stella, whom he has been smitten with for a long time. He arrives at Stella’s house to seal their arrangements while also asking her to marry him, but spots his lucky painting in Stella’s living room. On being asked how long she’s had it, Stella says she’s had it for years, not knowing it’s actually his. It is implied that she is murdered.

Meanwhile, Archy brings Johnny, the Wild Bunch, Mickey, and Roman to Lenny’s warehouse, where Johnny begins to verbally provoke his crippled stepfather. Just as Johnny is about to reveal a damning truth about Lenny in front of everyone, Lenny shoots him in the stomach. Lenny then orders that Johnny, Roman, and Mickey be taken downstairs and executed. He angrily demands that the Wild Bunch tell him where Uri’s money is. Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy) calls out to Archy and offers the documents in his jacket pocket, confirming what Johnny had been about to reveal: that the “rat” in the ranks, codenamed “Sidney Shaw”, was Lenny all along. Lenny arranged with the police to routinely throw many of his associates in prison for years at a time in order to secure his own freedom and sow fear among his gang. One-Two, Mumbles, and even Archy were among the people Lenny has informed on over the years. With the information brought to light, Archy orders Lenny’s men to free the Wild Bunch and angrily oversees Lenny’s execution by drowning.

Meanwhile, in the lift on their way to their deaths, Johnny graphically explains to Mickey and Roman how they will be executed. His description unnerves the man who’s to execute the 3 men, prompting him to make a move prematurely. Having also already anticipated this move, Johnny warns Mickey and Roman to intervene and kill their would-be executioner. Johnny shoots two more men waiting at the top of the lift. They overcome the last of the gangsters (with the help of the Wild Bunch) and escape.

Later, Archy picks up a rehabilitated, but still eccentric, Johnny Quid from the hospital. Archy gives Uri’s lucky painting to Johnny as a peace offering and “welcome home present”, which Johnny happily accepts. Archy reveals to Johnny that obtaining the painting “cost a very wealthy Russian an arm and a leg”. The film closes with Johnny proclaiming that, with his newfound freedom from addiction and his father, he will do what he couldn’t before: “become a real RocknRolla”. The end credits suggest there will be a sequel titled “The Real RocknRolla”.

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First Published: Jan 9, 2012  –   Last Updated: Nov 27, 2012