Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels
There are certain aspects required for a guy film. You basically need a bunch of friends, a bad situation and throwing in a number of guns never hurts. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels by Guy Ritchie takes these elements and adds a good measure of slapstick to the mix. Typical of the genre it takes a small group of friends that get into a bad set of circumstances and it seems that everything they do to get out just makes matters worse. This is also the type of film that you have to set the genre in your mind before you watch it. If you try to take this as a heist flick it will not work but approach it as an action comedy and you have a pretty decent little flick.
As the film opens we meet Eddie (Nick Moran) a likeable sort of a guy who is the type that is always looking for a fast score. He convinces his three best friends; Tom (Jason Flemyng), Bacon (Jason Statham) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) to invest £25,000 each so he can enter a high stakes card game. Eddie would go up against the notorious card shark Harry 'The Hatchet' Lonsdale (P.H. Moriarty) and the four friends will have a fortune to split. Considering his friends have nicknames like Bacon and Soap and the adversary is named the Hatchet Eddie and his friends should have known this was not going to turn out in their favor. Needless to say the game was rigged and Eddie winds up owing The Hatchet £500,000. Hatchet explains to Eddie that his associate Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean) will cut off one finger a day from Eddie and his friends until the debt is paid off. Harry’s real goal is to take over the bar that Eddie’s father owns. It turns out that this has been a long held grudge since Eddie’s dad JD (Sting) beat Harry in a big stakes game and used the winnings to purchase the bar. JD refuses to give up the title to the bar leaving his son desperate to pay the money and keep his fingers. Conveniently, a neighbor of Eddie, Dog (Frank Harper) is the head of a small time gang of his own. Dog’s gang plans on ripping off a drug laboratory run by a group of unarmed pot heads. A member of Dog’s crew, Plank (Steve Sweeney) has inside information since he is also a client of the druggies. Since the walls to Eddie’s flat are extremely thin they hear every detail of Dog’s plot with the help of some microphones. They contact Nick the Greek (Stephen Marcus) who will buy all the pot they steal and sell the lads two shotguns for the heist. In another plot twist the guns offered just happen to be two antique shotguns desired by Harry. The raid on the growers is successful to some extent although there one of Dog’s gang is killed. When he returns home Dog and his men are greeted by Eddie and his friends wearing masks. They take the pot and sell it to Nick you turns around and tries to sell it to another gangster, Roy Breaker (Vas Blackwood). Unfortunately, Roy owned the lab and was not particularly happy about the thought of buying back his own drugs. Believe it or not the plot gets more complicated from here on.
Writer-director Guy Ritchie has come up with a witty, complicated plot here that just pulls the audience in. You do need to suspend belief quite a bit but this is not a movie that you should take too seriously. As with any film that tends towards the zany there are a lot of covenant coincidences to get over. First of all you would think that this part of England is inhabited entirely by various levels of organized crime. They are for the most part deadly but they go about their nefarious business with a strange sense of comedy. To help the audience understand exactly what is going on Ritchie employs an ancient device, the narrator. In this case it is Alan (Alan Ford) the bartender at the pub. He gives the feeling of a Greek Chorus since he is not directly involved in the numerous plots and plans. He gives the right sense of overview that helps the audience get into the complex story. There is also something universal in the notion of a man dreaming far beyond his means. Eddie wants to make the fast score but he is soon in way over his head. After that it is like watching an old time silent film comedy of a man trying to get up from a freshly waxed floor. The harder he tries to right himself the more he falls on his back. This combination of slap stick and gun play works in a large part to the talent of Ritchie. While he may live in the shadow of his wife, Madonna, he certain can make a fun film. The style of the film helps a lot here. The camera work is almost hyper kinetic. The shots are fast and constantly on the move. The pacing of the flick moves along leaving just enough time for the audience to get the latest plot. Ritchie also uses a pounding rock score that just works well here. There is also a scene where Ritchie makes fun of the heavy cockney accents. He actually subtitles the dialogue poking a little fun at something the audience may otherwise find distracting. He also pushes the color towards the browns which reinforces the old time comedy feel, a nice little touch.
Nick Moran does great as the loveable loser, Eddie. He has an ‘everyman’ quality about him that helps the audience forget the implausible story and empathize with Eddie. He manages to pull of the witty dialogue with skill always selling his character to the audience. P.H. Moriarty’s performance makes for one of the better comic villains I have seen in a long time. Even when he is threatening Eddie and crew he does so over the top in classic film bad guy form.
Universal has released this film in two different formats. You can get the Pan & Scan version which is rated ‘R’ or opt for the unrated widescreen variation. I can’t imagine going for the full screen version at all. The widescreen version includes additional footage that provides some extra details and exposition which really helps out here. The video is in 1.85:1 anamorphic and it is excellent. You do have to remember that the color balance is not meant to be natural, the colors palette is pushed for effect here but the transfer is true to the film. The Dolby 5.1 could have been better. The speakers get a little work out with the rock score but overall are about average. For extras there are a couple of fun featurettes. ‘One Smoking Camera’ takes a look at the almost on the run cinematography. There is also a featurette, ‘Lock, Stock and Two F**king Barrels’ which goes into the various colorful expletives used in the film. Overall this film is worth watching. It is more of a guy flick so have some friends over and kick back and enjoy.