LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, 2008
Cast: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham, Steven Mackintosh
Four London working class stiffs pool their money to put one in a high stakes card game, but things go wrong and they end up owing half a million pounds and having one week to come up with the cash.
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Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels revolves around four friends; Eddie (Nick Moran), Bacon (Jason Statham), Soup (Dexter Flechter) and Tom (Jason Flemyng), and their misadventures, that create an entertaining amount of carnage. The four friends enter a card game with the infamous Gangster Hatchet Harry, and loose their entire stake. To make the situation worse, they become indebted to him for £500,000 because of a miscalculation by Eddie. The rest of the film is spent endeavouring to acquire the vast sum of money, which results in the robbing of their neighbours that have stolen roughly the same amount of money from someone else.
The plot is relatively complicated, with a plethora of intriguing characters and many tight twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing till the very end; culminating in an Italian jobesque ending. Interestingly, many consider it the renaissance of the British Gangster genre. Guy Ritchie’s seminal Directorial debut assimilates humour and violence; successfully creating a tasteful balance. Made on a tight budget of just under a million pounds, the films concept caught the eye of Trudie Styler (the wife of Sting from the band 'The Police'), and she invested a substantial amount of time and money into it; Sting was also handed a cameo role in the film, starring as J.D.
The film is very well cast (albeit with relatively unknown actors) and there is a strong feeling of realism within the characters, especially the film’s villains' who, upon further research, were actually gangsters or had criminal records; Vinnie Jones (Big Chris) was late on the first day of principle filming because he was in a cell in a Police station.
The film had several complaints of being too violent (and it could be argued that certain parts are), yet the characters are so convincing in their actions it is difficult not to take seriously. Lenny McLean (the Gov’ner) has a reputation that preceded him also, although unfortunately he passed away just after the film was finished and the film is dedicated to him. Nevertheless, there is great chemistry between all the actors throughout the film. The film does not have any stars in it per se, however it did go on to make Vinnie Jones’ and Jason Statham’s careers.
Shot on location in the East End of London, rich in the history of genuine gangster activity, the locations were chosen with authenticity in mind. A particularly interesting aspect of the film is the language dialect used within it. A substantial part is cockney rhyming slang, assimilated with a witty coolness. Admittedly, certain people may find it difficult to understand, or even find the coarse language a little too much too take.
The film is subtitled in America and in one version of the UK Directors cut, because of the difficult and idiosyncratic vernacular. There are a few subtle British references such as the regional differences in dialect, however the concept is unanimously intelligible. The film is bound to resonate and leave you with a new and interesting vocabulary, and you might even find yourself quoting the most memorable lines with fellow admirers soon after watching the film; “If the milk turns out to be sour, I ain’t the kind of Pu**y to drink it”.
Guy Ritchie originally directed music videos and one can easily notice a lot of stylized cinematography. Innovative and experimental shooting techniques also give the film an interesting and suitable look, such as shots speeding up and slowing down. A considerable amount of minimal lighting is used that gives the film a great texture and an original atmosphere.
Furthermore, the contemporary and very apt soundtrack resonates and embellishes the film with another 'cool' layer, with contributing artists such as Ocean Colour Scene, Dusty Springfield, Robbie Williams, The Stone roses and James Brown.
The film is made with brevity, confidence and originality. It is well made (especially considering it is an indie film) and it has a good tempo and intriguing and hilarious characters. For anyone who enjoys the Gangster Genre, this film is a “must see”.