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Formula 51 (The 51st State) (2002)



Average Rating: 4.3/10
Reviews Counted: 102
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 76

Filled with profanities, Formula 51 is a stylized and incoherent mess that doesn't add up to much.


Average Rating: 3.7/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 25

Filled with profanities, Formula 51 is a stylized and incoherent mess that doesn't add up to much.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 36,699

My Rating

Movie Info

First-time screenwriter Stelios Pavlou enjoyed a major success with this script that he wrote while working in an English liquor store by sending it to actor Samuel L. Jackson, who signed on for one of the lead roles. Jackson is Elmo McElroy, a kilt-wearing, golf club-wielding Los Angeles native who has invented an illegal drug formula that he hopes will provide him with a last major score of 20 million dollars before he retires from a life of crime. He travels to Liverpool, England, where he


Action & Adventure

Stel Pavlou

Feb 4, 2003


Screen Gems - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (119) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (76) | DVD (14)

Excessive, profane, packed with cartoonish violence and comic-strip characters.

January 2, 2003
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Yu seems far more interested in gross-out humor than in showing us well-thought stunts or a car chase that we haven't seen 10,000 times.

October 23, 2002 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dull-witted caper.

October 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This thing is just garbage.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stars Samuel L. Jackson in the worst role of his career.

October 18, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ridiculous, dispiriting and ... coarse.

October 18, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Missing: plot, dialogue, characters.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Overdirected, overacted, generally overwrought mess.

January 2, 2009 Full Review Source:

After creating the most addictive drug known to man, Samuel Jackson and Robert Carlyle go on the run looking for a buyer in what turns out to be a joyride of a movie that takes its inspiration from similar films that have come before it.

July 2, 2008 Full Review Source: IGN Movies
IGN Movies

Tenta desesperadamente ser um novo Jogo, Trapaças e Dois Canos Fumegantes, mas perde o jogo, trapaceia o espectador e é este quem entra pelo cano.

August 26, 2004
Cinema em Cena

...starts out well enough, with its quirky directorial touches and even quirkier storyline, but finally becomes just too overwhelming.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Elmo touts his drug as being 51 times stronger than coke. If you're looking for a tale of Brits behaving badly, watch Snatch again. It's 51 times better than this.

June 27, 2003 Full Review

Abnormal amounts of blood, bullets and wanton bodily functions could put the ill on some unsuspecting viewers.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

With an unusual protagonist (a kilt-wearing Jackson) and subject matter, the improbable "Formula 51" is somewhat entertaining, but it could have been much stronger.

February 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Citysearch

...Reeks of a studio trying to cut its losses and make a few bucks before the stiffer competition of Oscar season arrives.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Une très, très mauvaise copie du style Guy Ritchie.

November 12, 2002 Full Review Source:

Jackson is always watchable.

November 5, 2002 Full Review Source:

Ken Russell would love this. In one scene, we get a stab at soccer hooliganism, a double-barreled rip-off of Quentin Tarantino's climactic shootout - and Meat Loaf explodes.

October 28, 2002
Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)

Formula 51 has dulled your senses faster and deeper than any recreational drug on the market.

October 27, 2002
Your Movies (

All the insufferable antics being put forth (thoughtless racial jokes, forced catch phrases, canned hilarity, superficial frivolity, pointless plotlines) conjure up a steady derivative formula of nonsense with the tasty acceptance of sour skim milk.

October 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Eye
Movie Eye

It has the requisite flash and profane dialogue that movie audiences seem to like these days, but very little else.

October 25, 2002 Full Review Source: Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Bee

Utterly without redeeming social importance

October 25, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

With jump cuts, fast editing and lots of pyrotechnics, Yu clearly hopes to camouflage how bad his movie is. He fails.

October 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Internet Reviews
Internet Reviews

Best described as the cinematic equivalent of junk food: loaded with synthetic additives, deficient in nutritional benefits, but uniquely and undeniably satisfying if you have an appetite for such stuff.

October 23, 2002
San Francisco Examiner

Audience Reviews for Formula 51 (The 51st State)

August 15, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

A kilt wearing American pharmacologist comes to Liverpool to sell the formula for a new kind of street drug, but his former employer sends a hitwoman after him to ensure he fails. The 51st state is very frustrating to watch as I couldn't help feeling that there was a decent film in there somewhere trying to get out. The problem with it is its unbelievable lack of subtlety; it's over directed to the point where it feels like a clip show for CSI: Miami on crack, the constant, overly intrusive MTV soundtrack is abysmal and the constant stream of wacky comedy criminals made it feel like "Carry On Gangsters". Samuel L. Jackson is always watchable when he's allowed to strut his stuff and Robert Carlyle gets more tolerable as the film goes on, but its scattershot approach means that it misses the mark at least as often as it hits. In the end, one decent action sequence and a couple of mildly amusing gags is not enough to fill 90 minutes although Sam does make it watchable. Just. But I would never, ever sit through it again.
May 19, 2010
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

After reading the script I can safely say this is another example of a producer having absolutely no clue what he's doing and the hire of a poor casting director. A wasted opportunity!
September 28, 2009

Super Reviewer

Formula 51 is a forgettable Guy Ritchie knockoff that seems to get more painful to watch as it gets closer to the end credits. The performances for the most part are tolerable with the exception of Meat Loaf, who seemed to be channeling a retarded Bob Dole on cheap speed. Emily Mortimer was foxy but not comely enough to make me sit through Formula 51 again.This movie was full of embarrassing moments (namely Sam Jackson's speech at the rave...and the rave in general) but the thing that bugged me the most about Formula 51 was the direction. If I want to watch a 90-minute music video I'll turn on MTV and open a few arteries. And speaking of music, this movie was like going on a date with a friend of a friend you're kind of interested in--you've got a good idea as to what you're getting into, but she won't shut the fuck up. This movie seemed to have no moments of silence. It was drowned in a background soundtrack generally crappy music. There were a few decent moments like the Robert Carlyle scene in the pub and Formula 51 could've been worse. I'm just not sure how much worse.
April 8, 2009

Super Reviewer

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