Formula 51

2002

Formula 51

Critics Consensus

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

26%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 103

59%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,849
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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 hopes to find a buyer for his creation among the denizens of the city's rave scene, but his plans go awry when those who are in on the deal start turning up dead. Elmo's only protector is a chain-smoking, Yank-hating local hood named Felix De Souza (Robert Carlyle), who reluctantly partners with the violence-prone American to finish the deal and cash in, sparking a gang war between Elmo's vengeful one-time employer, The Lizard (Meat Loaf); Felix's boss, Durant (Ricky Tomlinson); crooked cop Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee); a beautiful assassin, who also happens to be Felix's ex-girlfriend (Emily Mortimer); and an offbeat, yoga-practicing nightclub owner and mobster named Iki (Rhys Ifans). For its U.S. release, the title of The 51st State was changed to Formula 51.

Cast

Samuel L. Jackson
as Elmo McElroy
Robert Carlyle
as Felix DeSouza
Emily Mortimer
as Dakota Phillips
Sean Pertwee
as Det. Virgil Kane
Meat Loaf
as The Lizard
Ricky Tomlinson
as Leopold Durant
Jake Abraham
as Konokko
Mac MacDonald
as Mr. Davidson
Aaron Swartz
as Mr. Yuri
David Webber
as Mr. Jones
Sonny Muslim
as Boy in Plane
Barbara Barnes
as Boy's Mother
Junix Inocian
as Mr. Ho-Fat
Paul Barber
as Frederick
Nigel Whitmey
as L.A. Highway Patrol
Anna Keaveney
as Shirley DeSouza
Ade
as Omar
Robert Fyfe
as Hector Dougal McElroy
Angus MacInnes
as Pudsey Smith
James Roach
as Grimtooth
Marc Anwar
as Pharmacist
Paul Broughton
as Anfield Commissonaire
Joan Campion
as Hotel Maid
Terry O'Neill
as Deck Hand
View All

Critic Reviews for Formula 51

All Critics (103) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (76)

Audience Reviews for Formula 51

  • Aug 14, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon13.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2011
    Elmo (Samuel L. Jackson) is a loudmouthed pharmacist who gets busted on graduation day for marijuana possession and loses his license. We catch up with Elmo in the current day where he's a master chemist for a drug lord producing state of the art recreational drugs and the genius behind a designer 'wonder' drug P.O.S. 51 which is supposed to be 51 times as powerful as cocaine, heroin and any other drug you can name, worth a cool $20 million. More importantly it can be made using substances that are readily available over the counter worldwide. After ceremoniously blowing up his lab (and bosses) in Los Angeles, he heads to Liverpool, England, in a kilt, no less in search of a buyer for his new party favor. But in between dodging an assassin's bullets and trying to stay one step ahead of the law, Elmo finds an unlikely partner in a small-time gangster (Robert Carlyle) and a lovely Emily Mortimer who has a soft spot for Carlyle. Hang on tight for an action-packed thrill ride that you'll never forget! Being set mostly in England, the movie also has a very British style to it and an interesting cross between action and comedy. Formula 51 is loud, mindless, illogical, but full of style, fast paced action and one liners. Its escapism, so suffice to say I enjoyed it.
    Deb S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2009
    Formula 51 is the story of Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise American master chemist who heads to England to sell his special new formula -- a powerful blue concoction guaranteed to... Formula 51 is the story of Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise American master chemist who heads to England to sell his special new formula -- a powerful blue concoction guaranteed to take you to the 51st State. McElroy's new product delivers a feeling 51 times more powerful than any thrill, any pleasure, any high in history. But his plans for a quick, profitable score go comically awry when he gets stuck in with an unlikely escort (Robert Carlyle) and becomes entangled in a bizarre web of double-dealing and double-crosses. Elmo McElroy made one little mistake in 1971 -- he was caught smoking pot while driving home from his graduation. In the blink of an eye, his dream of being a fully licensed pharmacist went up in smoke like the joint in his hand. Fast forward to 2001 and McElroy is on the wrong side of the tracks. Left with no choice, he's been forced to use his professional talents illegally in order to make a living. He wants out of the business badly -- and he has an ace up his sleeve. It's a formula that's going to change his life and set him up for a terrific future. A wonder chemist, McElroy has created POS-51, a party favor promises to be a "personal visit fro God." The coup de grace is that this new creation is made from entirely legal ingredients. McElroy's boss, The Lizard (Meatloaf), an unsavory fellow with a skin condition, plans to sell POS-51 to a syndicate of the world's top dealers. But McElroy has other ideas and they don't include The Lizard. After staging a chemical "accident" at the Lizard's headquarters. McElroy takes his invention to Liverpool to sell it. But what McElroy doesn't know is that his old boss is alive and well and has dispatched the sultry Dakota (Emily Mortimer) a tough beauty with a sniper rifle and a matching attitude, to track him down. Dakota knows Liverpool well. It's where she left her ex-boyfriend Felix (Robert Carlyle), a tough, cranky, chain smoking fast talking hood. Felix now works for Liverpool's biggest thug, the man with whom McElroy is about to make a $20M deal. And Felix has been assigned to escort McElroy while he's in town. And so begins a tempestuous relationship, one that is cemented as rivals, cops, cars and the occasional pedestrian are systematically taken out of the equation by the formidable partnership of Elmo and Felix. For the arrival of the American chemist and his blue magic has sparked a gold rush the likes of which the city has never seen. Rival dealers would do anything to get their hands on the formula. Everyone -- club owners, cops, a gang of inept skinheads and The Lizard -- wants a piece of the action. Who will outsmart whom? Who will double-cross their best friends and former lovers? Who will walk away with the formula? Will the good guys retire to a castle in Scotland, or will love get in the way?
    Martin D Super Reviewer
  • Jan 18, 2009
    Not as good as I would have hoped it would be.
    Kevin L Super Reviewer

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