LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS
Written and Directed by : Guy Ritchie
Main Cast : Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Stratham, Steven Mackintosh, Vinnie Jones and Sting
Length : 108 minutes
Rating : *** 1/ 2
The title is a bit of a mouthful, the film starts off sounding like a rip-off of TRAINSPOTTING (with a voice-over narration introducing the characters- and there are so many, many characters), and the cockney accent is a little difficult to get past at first (though if you got through TRAINSPOTTING, you'll find this easier), but it all turns out to be a big riot of fun, black humour and close scrapes.
I'm never one for žeuroÓ films, and I was pretty apprehensive coming to watch this, but I enjoyed LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS immensely, much to my surprise.
The plot starts off really convoluted as we get to meet different groups of characters. We meet Eddy and his friends who put together 100 000 pounds to play a high-stakes poker game with a gangland boss of London named Hatchet Harry. Harry's henchman Barry the Baptist sets up the game so Eddy loses (ends up owing 500 000 pounds), and has to repay Harry in a week or lose his fingers (so will his friends). Alternatively, Eddy's dad (Sting) can hand over his pub to Harry (which won't happen). Also, Harry, into acquiring antique rifles, has Barry employ thieves to steal the expensive shot-guns mentioned in the film title. But they get the wrong ones for Harry, and sell the real antiques to a friend of Eddy's friend. Then Eddy's friend purchases them to use in a heist- to steal from a bunch of thugs who live next door to Eddy who themselves are going to rob a group of marijuana dealers, who themselves are in the employ of another gangland boss. It goes on, believe me, but it gets us somewhere. We want to see how Eddy and his friends (though they're not all that likeable) get out of their fix. We want to see how the antique rifles keep changing hands (with twists of irony from beginning to end). We also don't mind a bit of shooting and a stinging peek at the crazy pitfalls of money-grubbing (gangland bosses, small-time crooks, gamblers and lowlifes all fall into this category). So, yes, the twists and turns get us somewhere.
It's a serpentine string of connections that somehow (revolving around money, antique rifles and lots of shoot-Žem-ups) brings every single character on screen into a cataclysmic, and amazing conclusion together. The best part is, that once you realise how this part of the story connects to the next and the next, and how they're all going to tumble together quite neatly and frenetically, the film gains an exhilarating momentum that I found truly entertaining. The film takes a bit to build up to that point, but letting the spring wind itself up for that denouement is extremely worthwhile. It's also been some time since I found bloody gun-battles and irreverent violence (these characters seem to take it as a way of life) tinged with enough black humour to make it funny (except gosh, these people swear a whole lot, and sometimes it just deadens the impact of profanities!).
Director Ritchie employs enough interesting cinematography (making the film look suspiciously like an MTV music video at times) and an extremely loud soundtrack to pump the film along to its end, and this was an interesting if awkward touch to the movie. But, after the movie starts unwinding with the merging of different plotlines, the music-video footage lets up- and none too soon, because LOCK, STOCK goes reeling wildly with what it's been saving up.
All in all, a real treat for its wit and energy. This was a good outing.
The Flying Inkpot's Rating System
* Wait for the TV2 broadcast.
** A little creaky, but still better than staying at home with Gotcha!
*** Pretty good, bring a friend.
**** Amazing, potent stuff.
***** Perfection. See it twice.
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