Since it’s officially Roy Scheider Day on the East Coast as I write this, I’m going to let my guard down and offer up an unflattering confession: I only like one Guy Ritchie movie, and it features neither gangsters nor Kabbalah. It also takes place on an island and, to my warped mind, bests the 1974 Lina Wertmuller art-house sensation on which it’s based.
But for those of you who have a use for Ritchie’s caper comedy shtick, you might be pleased to learn that he’s retreating to it after getting hided by audiences and critics alike for Swept Away and the still-unreleased-in-the-U.S. Revolver. This return to faded glory is called RocknRolla and – yes, RocknRolla – and it’ll be produced by Joel Silver’s Warner Brothers-housed Dark Castle Entertainment, which usually makes horror movies but this time has chosen to work with a director whose career has become a horror movie (it’s either that or they think Ritchie’s remaking the 1990 direct-to-video dust-gatherer Rockula). Frankly, I think this is a transparent effort by Silver to get into the Jason Statham business, but it could be that Ritchie is ready to suckle at the studio teat for a few years while Madonna decides whether or not she needs to get a new husband.
Ritchie is a talented director, but his two most popular movies – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – mistake pandemonium for invention. Visually, he’s got the gift (I once heard John Carpenter praise the guy’s framing), but his gangster movies are boring, heartless contraptions – which is why I prefer the marginally heartfelt, if empty-headed, Swept Away. Even though it’s a mess, at least Ritchie was trying to engage the audience rather than show off for them.
So I’ll not be looking forward to, um, RocknRolla, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, will be "modestly budgeted" and commence principal photography this summer.
Oh, and Variety‘s Michael Fleming adds some plot details: a crooked land deal brokered by a Russian gangster sends the entire London criminal community in a feeding frenzy. Characters will include a crooked politician, some two-bit thieves and a "sexy accountant" (i.e. a hot chick wearing glasses). The budget is expected to top out at $20 million. Yep, still not looking forward to this one.