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Film / RocknRolla

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People ask the question... what's a RocknRolla? And I tell 'em — it's not about drums, drugs, and hospital drips, oh no. There's more there than that, my friend. We all like a bit of the good life — some the money, some the drugs, other the sex game, the glamour, or the fame. But a RocknRolla, oh, he's different. Why? Because a real RocknRolla wants the fucking lot.

RocknRolla is the fifth film by British director Guy Ritchie. Much like Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch., and Revolver, RocknRolla is a crime film set in the London underworld, populated with colorful gangsters. Actors include Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Toby Kebbell, Thandie Newton, and Tom Wilkinson.

Lenny Cole is a powerful underworld figure, who, through an immense web of bribery, controls most of the land deals in London. A Russian businessman by the name of Uri seeks his services in procuring the permits to build a new stadium, which would take nearly a decade otherwise. However, their mutual accountant, Stella, is plotting to rip both of them off. With the aid of a trio of local hoodlums known as "The Wild Bunch" — One-Two, Mumbles, and Handsome Bob — she twice steals the seven million Euros intended for Lenny's payoff. The first time goes off without a hitch. The second time doesn't quite go as planned. Hilarity (and awesomeness) ensues.


In the midst of it all is a (presumably rare and valuable) painting that holds sentimental value for Uri. It is stolen by Lenny's estranged stepson John, AKA Johnny Quid (the eponymous RocknRolla), and both of their respective Dragons (Victor for Uri; Archy, The Narrator, for Lenny) are following a trail of junkies and hustlers in order to find it.

This Film provides examples of the following Tropes:

  • Adorkable: Archy can't help but sing a little tune when in Roman and Mickey's recording studio. He's even pleased with himself. When he realizes the others are staring at him, he takes a moment to put his tough guy face back on.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Uri, though we can't be sure if it is to be taken literally.
  • Armour-Piercing Slap: Archy's expertise; so powerful, it can even make you flashback to grade-school! It does just that to Bandy, even though he didn't even go to school!
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  • Badass Crew: The Wild Bunch, particularly the main three.
  • Badass Driver: Handsome Bob's job in the Wild Bunch.
  • Badass in Distress: The Wild Bunch spend the third act captured by Lenny and his men. And just before that, One-Two gets captured and tied up for what can only be described as a sexually tinged torture session by the two Made of Iron Spetznaz.
  • Badass Longcoat: Archy wears a black one.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The extended Wild Bunch owns and operates a bar that serves as their headquarters.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Pete, to Johnny.
  • The Beard: Stella, to her gay lawyer husband.
  • Berserk Button: Uri really loves that painting. Johnny Quid and Archy both get very angry when they are lied to.
  • Blatant Lies: Lenny asks Roman and Mickey "What do you think we are, gangsters?" in an offended tone while intimidating them.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Lenny. Pissing off Uri got him crippled for life via No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, and forced to drag himself a half mile or so to get help, to add insult to injury. And then Johnny handed off the file that showcased him as The Informant to Archy, well...
    • Possibly also Stella. And then Uri and Victor tortured her to death.
  • Bulletproof Vest: To a ridiculous degree. One of the Russians catches about six rounds from an AK at close rangenote , and is up chasing the Wild Bunch on foot for a prolonged period moments later.
  • Butt-Monkey: Quite a lot of characters are this, but the highlight is definitely poor Bandy, whose screen time always consist of him being slapped.
  • Camp Gay: Stella's husband, although he is on the more subdued side of the trope.
  • The Charmer: Cookie. He seems to have connections across social classes, and slides into Stella's high-class party quite easily.
  • Chase Scene: A particularly long and epic one.
  • Cluster F-Bomb
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: It's a Guy Ritchie movie. It pretty much goes without saying. Since this film deals with upper-class criminals, it's more apparent than ever. The Wild Bunch is sharply dressed, and when we see One-Two's house it's quite tasteful.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Archy, if the ending dialogue is anything to go by.
  • The Driver: Turbo, for Archy.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Johnny's drug-induced fit has shades of this. Also, the two junkies are constantly seen this way. Cookie resents his drug-using days.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Archy might not be evil, but he's still a criminal, and uneased by Lenny's "drown 'em in crayfish" interrogation tactic. And then he's outright shocked by Lenny shooting Johnny.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Councillor. Among his many other bribes, Lenny gives him a thousand-Euro lighter (actually worth about a hundred) that's inscribed "THE COUNCILLOR".
  • Face Cam: When One-Two is fleeing the scene of the second robbery.
  • Femme Fatale: Stella. Deconstructed. She was a Too Dumb to Live Smug Snake that got in fatal trouble the moment she did a move that she couldn't seduce her way out of, and only managed to pull a "Playing Both Sides" for so long because Uri was attracted to her.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Johnny makes an extensive speech at the middle point of the film about how cigarettes, because of the government-mandated advertisement on the boxes about how potentially dangerous they are, have become much more of a refuge for the Death Seeker that wants to go out looking "cool"... which is the very same reason he won't give back the stolen painting, now that he owns it.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Uri's dragon Victor and his two unstoppable men were all part of Spetznaz, the general name for Russian special forces.
  • Gayngster: Handsome Bob.
  • Godwin's Law: When Johnny says that Archy would make a good SS officer, it causes Archy to snap and deliver "the famous Archy slap."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Uri finds his "lucky painting" in Stella's house, the audience doesn't see what happens next, but considering he leads a branch of The Mafiya, it's probably not very nice.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Johnny decides to start calling Pete "Pedro" for some reason.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Johnny at the end. Give him a shower, get him off drugs, and put him in decent clothes and he's much more of a looker.
  • Honey Trap: A mild version; Handsome Bob puts the moves on Stella's husband in order to get information about the mole who's been informing to the cops. Subverted since Stella knows about her husband's proclivities, and really doesn't care (and is, in fact, off with One-Two at the same party.)
  • Husky Russkie: See the entry below.
  • I Am the Noun: A variant. When Stella's husband asks if Handsome Bob is part of the Wild Bunch, Mumbles tells him that "[Bob] is the Wild Bunch."
  • I Have No Son!: How Lenny views Johnny (who, technically, is his step-son).
  • Implacable Man: The Russian mercenaries.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Handsome Bob likes boys, specifically One-Two. One-Two really doesn't feel the same way, but he throws Bob a bone and gets over it pretty quickly.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Handsome Bob, played by Tom Hardy.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. When Archy and his men kill the Russians offscreen, a number of gunshots are heard. There's a Beat and then another gunshot closes out the fight.
  • Jerkass: While Bandy seems mostly dim and Turbo is quiet but loyal and trustworthy enough to be Archy's number two, Danny is heartless. He does not hesitate to slap Bandy, mouths off to Archy about his instructions, and seems gleeful when told to kill Johnny, Roman, and Mickey.
  • Kick the Dog: Would be easier to say when Lenny isn't doing this on-screen, but the one act that stands out (because it hits Archy's Rage Breaking Point) is him having sold out about half of London's criminal underground (including a good chunk of the cast—and especially Archy) to the police for the amnesty, because he's racist and for the sake of Disproportionate Retribution (he put Archy in Hellhole Prison for four years just because he felt Archy was "getting full of himself").
  • Last Request: Well, technically Handsome Bob wasn't dying when he made the request, but since he was so devasted about the impending jail time, One-Two let him have the lovely slow dance in a gay club. When he finds out that Handsome Bob didn't go to jail after all, his colleagues tease him about this.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: It's a Guy Ritchie movie. It pretty much goes without saying.
  • Logo Joke: Spray-stenciled by Johnny.
  • London Gangster: Where would a Guy Richie film be without several of these? Tom Wilkinson plays the Shout-Out to the Krays, as per usual. There is another shout out to "the Jew twins" who Lenny put in prison for a lengthy turn after betraying them.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Archy's "song." He manages to sing "You'll never sing the same if your teeth ain't your own" in an upbeat way.
  • MacGuffin: The painting. We only get to see the back of it.
  • Made of Iron:
    • The Russian spetznaz. They survive their car being smashed by a truck, being shot, hit with bats and golf clubs, being thrown off the the hood of a car when it crashed, and still chase after the Wild Bunch in a prolonged chase scene. Lampshaded when Butler's character asks "What are these guys made of?!"
    Mumbles: [after hitting one with a baseball bat. Twice.] Please stay down!
    • Johnny Quid, in a weird way. He's already survived multiple rumored deaths. Even when strung out on drugs, he's capable of badass feats, ignores any injury, and ultimately survives a close-range gunshot wound inflicted by Lenny. He's still able to stand, deliver two headshots on Lenny's mooks, before collapsing from weakness. By the epilogue, he's even kicked the drug habit.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Tank, very much so. Lenny tries to be, but it's mostly posturing.
  • The Mafiya: Uri and Victor are heavily implied to be gangsters trying to go legit. Uri is at least a corrupt oligarch.
  • The Narrator: Archy.
  • Never Found the Body: Johnny Quid is "missing assumed dead." Part of why everyone, including his managers and June, doubt he's dead is that if so, there's no evidence, and as June notes "If he's dead, that's the third time this year."
  • Noble Top Enforcer:
    • In comparison to the seemingly heartless Lenny Cole, Archy definitely qualifies as one of these. Of course, that doesn't mean that he's a nice man. Just ask Lenny.
    • Uri's dragon, Victor, might qualify as well. It is mentioned by one of the Indestructible Russians that Victor saved his life during the Chechen War.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Uri is basically Roman Abramovich. How did they not get sued?
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Several, with the Russians beating Lenny and Johnny attacking a bouncer being good examples. (We don't see all of Johnny and the bouncer, but it starts with Johnny jabbing the bouncer in the throat with a pencil, and it just goes from there.)
  • No-Sell: Johnny is the only person to immediately recover from Archy's Armor-Piercing Slap.
  • Not So Stoic: Archy isn't quite an emotionless man, but when in Roman and Mickey's office/recording studio, he accidentally speaks into a hot microphone. Intrigued, he sings a quiet lyric into it before smiling at himself. When he sees the two producers and his own boss stare at him confused, he takes a few seconds to compose himself and get his intimidating face back on.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the Russian gangsters just will not go down, there is a great one after one of them jumps onto the car. He puts the knife through the ceiling, after which One-Two stops the car. As everyone is thrown forward, One-Two just avoids having his face cut open by the potruding knife, and his face very much says this. After they see the Russian's other hand and knife coming for them over the bonnet, the entire Wild Bunch is afflicted by this trope:
    One-Two: Abandon ship! Run for your lives!
  • Overly Long Gag: Archy teaching Danny how to slap someone properly.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Upon learning that Lenny is the man who's sold out half of the underworld to the cops, Archy included, Archy righteously subjects Len to his own "drown 'em in crayfish" experience.
  • Pet the Dog: Archy has no love for Johnny, but when the newspaper reports that he is "missing, assumed dead," Archy offers his heartfelt condolences to Lenny.
    • Although it's obvious that he's still uncomfortable, One-Two goes from flipping his unholy shit about Handsome Bob being in love with him to treating him on what he thought was his last night as a free man for years.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Lenny is constantly griping about immigrants (even when the people in question are native Brits) and tossing around less than politically correct terms.
  • Pretty Boy: "Handsome" Bob.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Mumbles and One-Two have criminal records, which make their attempted real estate purchase troublesome.
    • No matter how Made of Iron they are, the Spetznaz are not wearing any body armor and go down from a few bullets from Archy's men. Even if it takes a bit.
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: Subverted. Being former Spetznaz, they can take it. Their introductory scene features them comparing scars from Chechnya.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Mafiya, in all of its brutal, leg-smashing glory—which Lenny learned the hard way when he got said legs broken (putting him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life) and was forced to drag himself from the 18th hole of a golf course all the way to the visitor's centre to get help (adding a hell of a lot of insult to injury) because he antagonized Uri when he was still a bit pissed about having had his painting stolen.
  • Sassy Secretary: June, to Roman and Mickey.
  • Sequel Hook: Johnny Quid drops the hint that he wants to be a REAL RocknRolla like Archy and the credits promise Johnny Quid, Archy, and the gang will be back in "The Real RocknRolla". Ritchie wrote a script for a sequel, but says that it's been sitting on the shelf while he deals with bigger projects.
  • Serial Escalation: On a meta level. Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels focused on working class criminals, with a less-than-a-million pound fee at stake. Snatch. was middle class and dealt with the diamond business. Here, it's about what Archy calls "the good life:" rock and roll, fancy houses, and millions of euros being thrown around.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll are not all there is to being a RocknRolla, but they're important parts.
  • Shirtless Scene: Johnny Quid gets a few. Despite an impressive six pack and lithe frame, he's not quite Mr. Fanservice, since all of those scenes come while he's grungy and strung out on drugs.
    • The Spetnaz as well. As with Johnny, even though they're in great shape, it's hard to be fanservice since they're about to torture One-Two.
  • The Smart Guy: Tank.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Johnny Quid. The man was educated in private schools and his vocabulary and eloquence show it. He's also a hard-partying rock star who doesn't mind cursing.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Johnny's piano song is very peaceful and calming. Meanwhile, Lenny is getting the tar beat out of him.
  • The Stinger: During the end credits, the full scene of One-Two dancing with Handsome Bob at the gay bar is shown.
  • Straight Gay: Handsome Bob, enough so that One Two had no idea (granted, he was the only one). Might border into Bi the Way, since he's known as a ladykiller with lots of girlfriends.
  • And This Is for...: Once Lenny's treachery as The Informant is revealed, Archy sends him into his favorite torture trap, angrily reading off the sentences various criminals got, culminating with his own.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The Russians.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • The junkies. "Selling stolen fur coats in the middle of summer, would not seem unusual to the average junkie mind."
    • Also Roman and Mickey, who are inseparable and also in continued confusion over the whole situation they find themselves in.
  • Title Drop: Three times, not counting Archy's dialogue in the beginning.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Stella, Stella, Stella. Ripping off seven million dollars from her employer once was incredibly dangerous and foolhardy (and if Uri had listened to Victor, suspicion would have fallen on her almost instantly), but then she does it again, once more only evading being traced as the security leak because Uri likes her too much to suspect her. Ironically, while her plan did get Victor waiting for a reason to act against her, what did her in was simple bad luck of accepting the painting from One-Two and leaving it out where Uri could see it... although not realizing it was Uri's lucky painting if she's been working with him all this time is arguably ALSO too dumb to live.
  • True Companions: Handsome Bob is the epitome of this to his friends. Mumbles praises him as a paragon of the trope.
    Mumbles: If I could be half the human that Bob is, at the price of being a poof, I’d have to think about it. [Beat] Not for very long, of course, but there would be a pause!
  • The Un-Reveal: Uri's painting is never revealed. The most we can tell is that it's got a black field, glimpsed when the junkies sell it. Of course, the prop is probably just a blank, black surface.
  • Vodka Drunkenski:
    • While the Spetznaz has One-Two tied up and they're prepared for a sexual torture session, they're also blasting Russian rock and roll and pounding vodka like there's no tomorrow.
    • Averted by Uri. When Lenny asks "I thought [Russians] drank vodka?" he simply replies "Whiskey is the new vodka." He also doesn't drink, and Lenny gets absolutely smashed.
  • Water Torture: Lenny Cole likes to torment people he's questioning by dunking them underwater with voracious crayfish for a minute at a time or more.


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