RocknRolla: Feed this turkey to the Thames crayfish

RocknRolla (15)

This is Guy Ritchie's third turkey in a row, after Swept Away and Revolver. It is a pitiful attempt to recapture the success of his first two movies, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

But not only does it return once too often to Ritchie's old haunts; most of the characters are identical in all but name to his previous creations. It has an inescapably dated air, from the opening voice-over which assures us that London property prices are on the up and up. Sure they are, Guy. And Tony Blair's still Prime Minister.

The convoluted but never intriguing plot is also horribly familiar.

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Gerard Butler as One Two and Idris Elba as Mubles in RocknRolla

Gerard Butler as One Two and Idris Elba as Mubles in RocknRolla

Once again, a petty criminal (this time Gerard Butler stands in for Jason Statham) has to find money fast to pay off a vicious criminal Mr Big called Lenny (that's Tom Wilkinson giving us his impersonation of Frank Harper).

Lenny's a nasty piece of work who feeds people he doesn't like to Thames crayfish, as opposed to the pigs that used to eat the gangster's enemies in Snatch. So I suppose that's a bit different.

Femme fatale: Thandie Newton as Stella

Femme fatale: Thandie Newton as Stella

Ritchie clearly wants us to like Butler because, even though he's a criminal, he's a good guy. We know this because he doesn't speak ill of 'immigrants', unlike Lenny, and has two sidekicks, one of whom is gay (Tom Hardy), and the other black (Idris Elba).

For Ritchie, political correctness evidently replaces the need for characterisation.

There is, of course, a femme fatale (Thandie Newton), for women are never to be trusted in Mockney gangster films, especially posh ones with a Ritchie-esque passion for tough guys.

She, less than credibly for a high-earning accountant, helps Butler to steal seven million euros twice from the same dodgy Russian, football-club-owning billionaire called Obomavich - there's subtle satire for you.

He's meant to be sharp, but doesn't suspect her, even though she's the only person who knows where his two batches of dosh could be intercepted. Duh.

Other, even less convincingly developed storylines concern a junkie rock star (played by Toby Kebbell as a less clean-living version of Russell Brand). This is the rocknrolla of the title. He's Lenny's abused stepson, and for no particular reason steals a painting belonging to the Russian.

The character is so peripheral and tiresome that the movie grinds to a halt whenever he's on screen. Ritchie evidently thinks he's cool, because an inordinate amount of time is devoted to his windy philosophising.

I kept wishing Lenny would feed him to his crayfish-Arguably the least plausible character is a gay barrister who inexplicably endangers his career and life by gratuitously informing Butler's pals who's the 'grass' who's been landing many of the characters in prison. The climactic revelation might just surprise anyone who's never been to a movie.

Toby Kebbell as Johnny Quid

Toby Kebbell as Johnny Quid

The usually estimable Mark Strong plays Lenny's sidekick in a way that suggests rather too dedicated a study of Daniel Craig in Layer Cake.

Among the welter of substandard performances, the feeblest is given by Jimi Mistry, as a crooked councillor who apparently has the power to grant planning permission throughout the City of London.

He performs the whole thing in a sweaty funk, which makes you wonder how on earth he has got away with it for so long.

The same thought applies to Mr Ritchie. This embarrassing piece of self-parody ends hubristically with the threat of not one but two sequels starring the most annoying character and least welcome survivor, the junkie rock star.

Please, please, please, don't let them happen.

Rating: Turkey

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