Alas, we didn't get our hands on Hulk vs Wolverine/Thor or RocknRolla tonight. We did see RocknRolla on the big screen a couple times, though, so let's talk about that.RocknRolla (as well as Revolver, which I've yet to see) marks a true return to form for director Guy Ritchie, who helmed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrells and Snatch back in the day before marrying Madonna and doing very little the last several years besides a (widely reviled) vehicle for her, Swept Away. Well, he and Madonna are splitsville now, and it looks like he's got his groove back. I remember us liking Ritchie's older films a lot when we saw them, but that was years ago, so we're not gonna compare RocknRolla against them now. It fits in very well with recent clever, fast paced crime films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lucky Number Slevin, and In Bruges, all of which were excellent. RocknRolla stands tall in this company thanks in large part to it's colorful cast of thieves and junkies.
The plot of the film is fairly labyrinthine, especially at the beginning when many, many characters and plot points are introduced in the space of a few minutes. It all comes clear throughout the movie, however, and you won't need cliff notes to keep up with who's who by the time all the plotlines start converging for the climax. Basically there's a British mob boss named Lenny (Tom Wilkinson), a super-rich Russian crimelord named Uri, and a group of thieves called the Wild Bunch who are hired to steal the money that's being exchanged between the two gangsters, by the accountant (Thandie Newton) who's overseeing the exchange. Before the theft, Uri gives Lenny a lucky painting to hang onto as a sign of good faith, but that also gets stolen, by Lenny's stepson, rockstar/junkie/philosopher Johnny Quid. Once the deal starts going south, Uri demands the painting be returned to him. Hijinks ensue.
The film's chock full of quirky, interesting characters, but three really stand out. Mr. One Two, played by Gerard Butler, is the leader of the wild bunch, a charming rogue if ever there was one. Archie (Mark Strong, who also played Septimus in Stardust) is Lenny's right hand man, a cunning and suave sort of gangster, loyal to a fault despite clearly being more capable than his boss. The true breakout role of the film, though, is Johnny Quid (incredibly talented unknown Toby Kebbell), who's everything we listed about him above, as well as a mad genius who's faked his own death multiple times. The movie is well-written and engaging throughout, full of memorable scenes and lines. Don't expect a lot of action (though what's in there is well done), but do expect some great use of music and a bounty of style and wit. The ending promises a follow-up called The Real RocknRolla, and we can't wait. Highly recommended.
Now, there is a bit of a queer factor in the movie I want to address. This bit will contain some minor spoilers, nothing that'll ruin the movie for you.
The youngest member of the Wild Pack is Handsome Bob, who has a coming out scene with Mr. One Two that honestly, is pretty cringe-worthy. One Two fairly flips out when Bob tells him. To be fair, though, Bob does drop the bomb on him in the worst possible way, by coming on to him.
Closeted gay kids, here's a tip : your straight friends are gonna take the news that you like the same sex better than the news that you like them.
Don't let this deter you from seeing the movie, though, gay or straight. One Two may be a homophobic character to start with, but the movie itself is not. The coming out scene might be a little hard to watch for sensitive types, but as the film continues it becomes quite gay-friendly. One Two is really the butt of the joke here, as it's his overreaction and obvious awkwardness afterward that are played for laughs, not Bob's orientation. The rest of the gang knows Bob's 'secret' and accept it, and One Two's homophobia is treated as a character flaw that he works through onscreen. In fact, Bob gets a great scene later on which is hard to explain...he kind of cockteases some information out of a guy in a very cool, badass way. The point is, I feel like a few characters onscreen who are cool and badass while being gay (as opposed to despite being gay) will do more to change public perceptions about homosexuality than any number of characters who are in denial/tortured/suicidal about their orientation. Also, on a completely personal note...I can't blame Bob. I'm not generally attracted to guys who are much older than me, muscular guys, hairy guys. I've never found scottish accents particularly sexy, and 300 did nothing for me. But for some reason, I found Gerard Butler crazy attractive in this movie. Don't know why, I just wanted to bring him home to mama.