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Not to be confused with Rock-n-Roller.
Rocknrolla ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Produced by Steve Clark-Hall
Susan Downey
Guy Ritchie
Joel Silver
Written by Guy Ritchie
Starring Gerard Butler
Tom Wilkinson
Thandie Newton
Mark Strong
Idris Elba
Tom Hardy
Toby Kebbell
Jeremy Piven
Chris Bridges
Jimi Mistry
Music by Steve Isles
Cinematography David Higgs
Edited by James Herbert
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • 4 September 2008 (2008-09-04) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • 5 September 2008 (2008-09-05)
Running time
114 minutes

United Kingdom

United States
Language English
Budget $18 million[1]
Box office $25,739,015[2]

RocknRolla is a 2008 British-American crime comedy film written and directed by Guy Ritchie, and starring Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Jimi Mistry and Toby Kebbell. It was released on 5 September 2008 in the UK, hitting No. 1 in the UK box office in its first week of release.[3]


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. 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" which includes Mumbles (Idris Elba) and Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy).

Lenny charges Uri €7,000,000 for the crooked deal; Uri has his accountant Stella find funds. Uri lends his lucky painting to Lenny as a sign of friendship. Stella, however, double-crosses Uri and tips off the Wild Bunch to steal the money, while the painting is stolen from Lenny's wall by his junkie rocker stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), who disappears. Lenny and Archy coerce his former managers Mickey (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) and Roman (Jeremy Piven) into tracking down Johnny. Handsome Bob also gets close to Stella's gay husband, a lawyer who has information on a prevalent undercover informer in their criminal circle.

After Uri's money is stolen by the Wild Bunch a second time, his assistant Victor begins to suspect that it is Lenny who has been stealing the money and purposely keeping Uri's painting from him to resell it. This theory enrages Uri, who lures Lenny to a private golf game to break his leg, warning him to return his painting without delay.

Cookie (Matt King) happens to buy the 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. After Stella leaves his flat, One-Two is surprised by Uri's henchmen but is rescued, and then kidnapped, by Archy and his goons who had come looking for Uri's money.

Uri wants to marry Stella, whom he has long admired. At Stella's house he proposes, but he spots the painting. Stella lies and says she has had it for years. Uri, enraged by this and realising that Stella betrayed him, orders Victor to kill her.

Archy brings Johnny, Roman, Mickey and the Wild Bunch to Lenny's warehouse where Lenny orders Johnny executed. He demands that the Wild Bunch tell him where the money is or else they will be killed "very slowly". Handsome Bob offers the legal documents concerning the informant in his pocket to Archy. Archy recognises the pseudonym used on documents, "Sydney Shaw", as belonging to Lenny. Lenny arranged with the police to routinely lock up many criminal associates (including Archy himself) for years at a time to enhance his own standing in the criminal underworld and to ensure his own freedom. Archy orders Lenny's men to free the Wild Bunch and has Lenny drowned and fed to crayfish.

In the lift, Johnny graphically explains to Roman and Mickey that they will also be killed to leave no witnesses, and graphically explains the manner of their executions. His description unnerves the man who's to execute the three men, prompting him to act 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 and they escape the last of Archy's men (with the help of the Wild Bunch).

Later, Archy picks up Johnny from rehab. Archy gives Uri's lucky painting to Johnny as a peace offering. Archy says that obtaining the painting "cost a very wealthy Russian an arm and a leg" implying he had Uri killed. Johnny proclaims that, with his new-found freedom from addiction and his father, he will do what he could not before: "become a real RocknRolla".


There are three themes in RocknRolla which recur throughout the film and are familiar to Guy Ritchie audiences. The first involves the mix of urban decay and urban exploitation which is part and parcel for Guy Ritchie's portrayal of life in contemporary London. The second theme is the study of the rivalry and competition between gangs of varying size and power in London's underground and subculture. The third theme which recurs throughout the film to its conclusion is the study of a vast collection of ethnic and cultural paradigms and stereotypes along with their prejudices, large and small. These are enumerated through the many districts and suburbs of London at all levels of society, national and international, from the vastly super-rich and famous all the way down to the most lowly and desperate inhabitants of the city.

On 10 August 2013 the British news magazine The Economist summarised the difference between London's organised crime scene of the 1960s and 1970s in comparison to the 1990s and early 2000s of Guy Ritchie's time in its essay titled "Farewell to the Heist":[4] "For all the daring, in its cast of characters and casual violence the Great Train Robbery (of 1963) typified the organized crime that flourished in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s... That world ended in the 1970s and 1980s... Since then Britain's organized crime scene has diversified sharply. Whereas gangs were once extremely local—defined by their own territory—crime is now much more globalized... One visible change is the arrival of criminals with foreign origins." This foreign influence is a key theme recurring throughout Ritchie's portrayal in RocknRolla of present-day corruption in contemporary London.


Members of the cast of the film at a screening at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

A scheduling conflict prevented director Guy Ritchie from casting actor Jason Statham, who had appeared in four of his previous films.[8]


In May 2007, director Guy Ritchie announced the production of RocknRolla, a film with a similar theme to two of his previous films, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000). RocknRolla, written by Ritchie, was produced by Joel Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment, Ritchie's own company, Toff Guy Films, French company StudioCanal[9] and distributed by Warner Bros.[10] The following June, Ritchie hired the cast for RocknRolla, and filming began on location in London on 19 June 2007.[11] Two scenes were filmed at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire; the opening scene on the grass tennis courts, and the round of golf which takes place on the 21st green with the impressive clubhouse in the background.[12]


Critical response[edit]

Critical reaction to the film has been mixed, with 59% positive out of 134 reviews on the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.[13] The website Metacritic, which compiles and then aggregates major film critics' reviews, gave the film a 53 out of 100, which is categorised as having mixed or average reviews.[14] While the film's unoriginal themes were criticised, the script and direction, as well as the performances of Strong, Butler and Kebbell, were praised.

IGN gave the film a positive review with four out of five stars, saying "[Guy Ritchie is] hardly re-inventing the wheel with this movie, but RocknRolla is nonetheless a comedy thriller that is every bit as accomplished as his early work, and without doubt a witty, adrenalin-fuelled blast from start to finish."[15] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, stating that "It never slows down enough to be really good, and never speeds up enough to be the Bourne Mortgage Crisis, but there's one thing for sure: British actors love playing gangsters as much as American actors love playing cowboys, and it's always nice to see people having fun."[16]

Box office[edit]

The film hit No. 1 at the UK box office in its first week of release.[3]

The film took a total gross of US$25,739,015 worldwide, compared to US$83,000,000 for Snatch, seeing a modest return on the film's US$18,000,000 budget.[1][2]


Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 30 September 2008
Genre Rock, reggae, garage rock, funk, indie rock, hard rock, Latin, beat
Label Varese Sarabande
Guy Ritchie film soundtracks chronology
Sherlock Holmes
United Kingdom edition
  1. "Dialogue Clip: People Ask the Question" – Mark Strong
  2. "I'm a Man" – Black Strobe
  3. "Have Love, Will Travel" – The Sonics
  4. "Dialogue Clip: No School Like the Old School" – Various Artists
  5. "Bankrobber" – The Clash
  6. "The Trip" – Kim Fowley
  7. "Dialogue Clip: Slap Him!" – Various Artists
  8. "Ruskies" – Steve Isles
  9. "Outlaw" – War
  10. "Waiting for a Train" – Flash and the Pan
  11. "Dialogue Clip: Junkies" – Various Artists
  12. "Rock & Roll Queen" – The Subways
  13. "The Gun" – Lou Reed
  14. "The Stomp" – The Hives
  15. "We Had Love" – The Scientists
  16. "Dialogue Clip: Sausage & Beans" – Various Artists
  17. "Mirror in the Bathroom" – The Beat
  18. "Funnel of Love" – Wanda Jackson
  19. "Such a Fool" – 22-20s
  20. "Dopilsya" – Sektor Gaza
  21. "Negra Leono" – Miguelito Valdés


Newton revealed that Ritchie stated that he hopes to extend RocknRolla into a trilogy, in the event that the film receives enough positive attention.[17] At the end of the film there is a title card stating "Johnny, Archy and the Wild Bunch will be back in The Real RocknRolla". According to both the audio commentary and an interview with Ritchie, the second film has been written and is awaiting studio approval.[18]

In a 2011 interview, promoting Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, when asked about a possible RocknRolla sequel, Ritchie said "You know, I've spent a lot of time thinking about it! I've written a script, I think it's a great script, and Joel (Silver) wants to pay for me to do it. But up until now we haven't had the time to do it. It's sitting there and we'd all like to do it, it's just a question of when we're going to fit it in. So we'll wait and see." He also mentioned that as long as Warner Bros. keeps throwing him "big movies like the Sherlock Holmes films and The Man from UNCLE, then it may not be happening soon."[18]


  1. ^ a b "The Guy Ritchie effect". Los Angeles Times. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "RocknRolla (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "UK Box Office: 5–7 September 2008". UK Film Council. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  4. ^ The Economist, "Farewell to the Heist," 10 August 2013, p50.
  5. ^ Dempster, Sarah (22 September 2007). "Tom Hardy tastes the hard life". The Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, Charlotte (2 January 2008). "Big in 2008". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  7. ^ Maher, Kevin (19 January 2008). "Sweeney's fresh blood". The Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Hellard, Peta (18 October 2007). "Hard luck story for Jason Statham". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2007. 
  9. ^ IMDb (1990–2012). "Company credits for RocknRolla (2008)". IMDb., Inc. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Kit, Borys (14 May 2007). "Ritchie will rock caper pic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  11. ^ "Five plugged in for Ritchie's 'RocknRolla'". The Hollywood Reporter. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  12. ^ "Movie History". Stoke Park. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "RocknRolla (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "RocknRolla Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  15. ^ Tilly, Chris (2 September 2008). "RocknRolla UK Review". IGN UK. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.  4/5 stars
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (29 October 2008). "RocknRolla Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.  3/4 stars
  17. ^ Adler, Shawn (24 March 2008). "Breaking: Guy Ritchie Plans 'RocknRolla' Trilogy With Thandie Newton". MTV Movies Blog. Archived from the original on 29 August 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2008. 
  18. ^ a b Russ Fischer (15 December 2011). "Sequel Bits: Mark Neveldine Says 'Crank 3′ Will Happen; Plus 'RockNRolla,' 'Planet of the Apes' and 'Incredibles' Follow-up Talk". Slash Film. /FILM. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tropic Thunder
Number-one DVDs of 2009 (UK)
8 February
Succeeded by