Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, and Nick Moran in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)


(director/writer: Guy Ritchie; cinematographer: Tim Maurice-Jones; editor: Niven Howie; cast: Jason Flemyng (Tom), Dexter Fletcher (Soap), Nick Moran (Eddy), Jason Statham (Bacon), Vinnie Jones (Big Chris), Peter McNicholl (Son ), P.H. Moriarty (Hatchet Harry), Lenny McLean (Barry the Baptist), Sting (J.D.), Steven Mackintosh (Drug Dealer), Dog (Frank Harper),Vas Blackwood (Samoan Crime Boss), Suzy Ratner (Stoned Girl), Stephen Marcus (Nick the Greek); Runtime: 106; Gramercy Pictures; 1998-UK)
“A Laurel and Hardy film would have looked like deep sardonic humor compared with this sophomoric effort.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

No heroes presented and no story to speak of are the main attributes for this futile attempt at a Trainspotting, Performance, The long Good Friday, and a Tarantino-like gangster/comedy, all rolled into one film. It is served up with an Eastend of Londoner’s sense of vile English humor. This is writer/director Guy Ritchie’s first feature film, formerly known for his video commercials. He tries every bit he could muster from the lore of gangster and screwball comedies to make this film work, but still misses by a city mile. This is just a bad film. A Laurel and Hardy film would have looked like deep sardonic humor compared with this sophomoric effort.

Every character in the film tries to be the ultimate zany character, but succeeds only in being one-dimensional. While, the women are reduced to playing an insignificant part in this film, as they are either go-go girls or are unnoticeable as druggies.

Ritchie’s aim for the film, is to keep the audience guessing at what is happening. In that endeavor, he is successful–I’m still guessing.

It all starts when four lame-brained Eastenders Tom (Jason Flemying), Bacon (Jason Statham), Eddy (Nick) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) pool their life savings together to put one of them, Eddy, into a card game with a notorious crime boss and porn king and antique gun collector, who has attained his wealth by nefarious means, the so-called Hatchet Harry (P.H.). Eddy, who never loses an honest game, loses this crooked game, and he is given a week to pay off the half million pounds debt or else his fingers and his friends’ fingers will be taken off, by one of Harry’s thugs, one day-at-a-time. That thug is a Lionel Stander clone, but not even close to him in getting laughs, who goes by the handle of Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean). Lenny was a former bare knuckle champion who died shortly after the film was released.

The story gets slapstick happy as four gangs are going after a bundle of money that is ripped-off a non-violent drug dealer and marijuana grower (Steven Mackintosh), who works for a Samoan crime boss. The boss looks like Little Richard (Vas), which belies his sinister nature. The story continues with a series of mix-ups, treachery, and lots of confusion as attitude becomes the thing the film is trying to convey.

No group holds our attention for long as the pace quickens and each group goes for their little bit of violence and comedy, and we never stay focused on any one group which was a major blunder in artistic direction as everything attempted seemed muddled.

The gang ripping-off the drug dealer is led by a vicious thug, Dog (Harper), who is the neighbor of the four boys. He is overheard planning a drug robbery and with this in mind, they plan to rob him after he robs the drug dealer.

Here are some of the many characters who added their two cents worth to the film without adding any depth to their character: Chris (Vinny Jones, the English bad-boy of soccer), who plays his hit man part with a killer’s deadpan face. He works with his equally business-like young son (Peter McNicholl), as they both work for Harry. Thrown into the picture are a couple of inept burglars, a greedy middle man named Nick the Greek, a constantly stoned girl, a befuddled traffic cop and Sting, as a bar owner and disapproving father of Eddy. As Eddy’s dad, he can cancel the debt by handing over his bar: lock, stock and barrel to his old adversary, Harry, but chooses not to.

The plot has its twists and turns, and has plenty of corpses turning up unexpectedly.

I think you would get more satisfaction, if you are hooked on seeing this type of genre film, in checking out the video of Reservoir Dogs.