We suspect that Guy Ritchie’s comedies are meant to teach the audience a lesson they wouldn’t want to learn. The protagonists are usually entertaining fellows – confident, humorous, attractive. Nevertheless, they rarely succeed, never easily or to great advantage. Admittedly, the stories are not so harsh as to teach them lessons. For the benefit of the audience, there are narrators who teach the audience about the world of crime.
This is the first time, however, when a type of criminal is the center of the story, not to say an object of admiration. The time he wastes he wastes on drugs & music. He is a rocker, but he has a weakness for romantic melodies. When he is serious, however, he means to kill people & to rob people. He suggests that beauty hides terror & that people fear ugliness. He uses both possibilities. People recognize something akin to nobility in him; they think he might have the stuff of a tragic hero in him.
This boy means to destroy his adoptive father, a small-minded criminal going into business with the incoming Russians, who bring the money stolen from their wrecked country, as well the harshness & cruelty. Now, the wherewithal of his campaign of destruction is deception, not force. Both are vulnerable to chance, however, so the whole point is how the rock-n-rolla mitigates the power of chance.
The group of criminals that attracts our attention is peculiar, because the men are friends, such that though they abandon their families & go to jail, they do not abandon each other. This has the not unusual consequence of earning them a reputation for reliability, as well as for arrogance. They find it accordingly difficult to fit in with the criminal organizations around them.
The two crimes featured in the story are suborning politicians in order to control real estate & robbery. Land is disputed between locals & immigrants. Some have already acquired & must protest his own, & others must acquire, having nothing to protect as yet. All are led by necessity. Stealing money is a peculiar derivative of acquisition, in that fraud suffices to achieve it, & it can be done indefinitely. Money perhaps has no owner, not even the law.
Our protagonist & our narrator eventually reach an agreement which saves more lives than it costs. It especially has the virtue of punishing some particularly unsavory characters & saving from punishment the more attractive among the criminals. It is dedicated to the proposition that crime does pay, if done prudently, whereas ignobility & lack of respect for one’s enemies are shown to lead to disaster. It is not a moralistic teaching, admittedly, but is a teaching about moderation.
Guy Ritchie‘s last crime comedy, recommended for the fans.