Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Reviews
The film, 1999's "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," was the first for the now cultishly beloved Ritchie, who kept his cheeky stride with 2001's similar "Snatch" but lost it all after marrying Madonna and throwing his career away in 2003 with "Swept Away," a misguided attempt to combine work and play. After "Snatch's" release, he's come close to matching the initial triumphs of his first two releases ("Sherlock Holmes" brought him much needed commercial success, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." showcasing him as an immensely capable talent-for-hire), but nothing takes the place of "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," whose vitality and crotchety humor makes it as punchy of a crackpot crime comedy as it was back in '99.
Its hard-to-follow plot, a familiar case of too many characters and too many stories, is its weak link, preventing us from feeling that internal cackle that follows suit after undergoing something like "Jackie Brown," which was similarly complicated but nevertheless straightforward and rewarding to keep up with. There comes a point during "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" in which the hurricane of thick British accents and bafflements of the intersecting stories becomes too much, us having to throw our hands up in surrender to its byzantine ways. But its delightful performances and saucy dialogue never lose their introductory charisma - getting lost in its setup is very much a possibility, but tiring of its personality is certainly not.
The film concerns the misadventures of a pocket of East End thugs, who match in their tendencies to blunder but who vary in their callousness. Most conspicuously featured are Eddy (Nick Moran), Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng), and Soap (Dexter Fletcher), low-lifes who unwisely devise a plan to earn enough money to land Eddy a spot on the poker table of porn producer Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty). So intrigued by the prospect of winning big that they forget that Eddy could, you know, lose, we get the feeling that the twenty somethings are way in over their heads.
And we'd be right - Eddy doesn't end a victor and instead becomes a victim of the payback. By the end of the week, he is expected to give Harry an obnoxious amount of cash; Harry, aware that the young man foolish enough to go against him likely won't be able to put his money where his mouth is, eyes his father's bar for purchase. But Eddy and his pals are virilely forlorn, eventually landing on the idea of stealing from a local gangster's (Steven Mackintosh) marijuana business. Connoisseurs of the heist they aren't, though, and the hot water around them gets even hotter the more they try to get Eddy out of his debt.
A bevy of characters are further introduced, but to list them all off, describing their individual roles in driving the labyrinthine plot, would be tiresome and maybe even worthless; most likely, you won't be able to keep up with "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" any better than me. You will, however, remain enthralled by its exchanges and its characters - I love the way Ritchie is able to make even the most wearisome of a conversational detail pop with knowing panache, and I love the chutzpah of the performers, especially Statham, then a newcomer, Vinnie Jones, a brawny toughie, and Vas Blackwood, who, with delicious camp, plays a crime boss of unusual merit. So while "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" is not the direct escapism most hunt for to spend a couple of hours with, its exhibition is unmissable; had Ritchie continued on the path set by it, then he might have been a living legend. But there are worse ways to be remembered.
There is certainly a Tarantino style going on throughout as the story tends to twist n turn amongst all the dreary looking locations, the whole film seems to have a brownish tint to it. Almost an enforced grimy hue to really bring the rough dilapidated streets of London to life. To be honest you don't even need to follow the story you just watch it for the continuous use of cockney slang and hints of vicious violence between various ruffians (a case of less is more with the violence), at the same time all this is accompanied by a glorious soundtrack.
A slick cool visage of thugs and wheeler dealers of varying levels of intelligence all mixed with a dark gallows humour that makes you unsure whether to giggle or shy away. The four main characters are a good balance of your classic 'EastEnders' types with a dollop of 'Only Fools n Horses' comedy on top in a world where the Kray brothers could still be walking the streets and where Vinnie Jones as Big Chris brings another level of atmosphere with his final act. Bosh! job done Guv'
This is the film that introduced many to the directing talent of Guy Richie and introduced everybody to Jason Statham.