This film is a real fun. What can you expect from a crime or gangster movie, beside its American-styled jokes and characters? “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” has all of them, except that it comes from United Kingdom. Director Guy Ritchie wrote a story that connects four friends, weed sellers, gangsters, debt collectors, and loan sharks with lots of British punchlines, bleak jokes, and—the most interesting—accents in a very interesting approach.
The story, in fact, was not that simple. Bacon (Jason Statham), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), Tom (Jason Flemyng), and Eddie (Nick Moran) spent £100,000 to play a card game against “Hatchet” Harry (P. H. Moriarty), a loan shark that was also called a porn king. But the game was not as smooth as it was predicted: Eddie, representing the group, lost to Harry and owed him £500,000 that he had to pay in one week. Working on the fortune left, the four friends decided to rob the money that their neighbors, a gang of thieves planning on robbing some marijuana growers, got from their robbery. But they knew very little that everything had been planned would lead them to another bigger problem that might cost them their life.
It's easy to be reminded with "Reservoid Dogs" or "Pulp Fiction" when you see this film, although this film might be a lot more softer. The first impression I got from “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is that this is quite an experimental film. You will have lots of yellow, brown, or dark colors all around that give an extra underground nuance to the film. The pictures are somewhat grainy, camera rotates quite freely, and there are also some slow-motion scenes that went quite dramatic. You will also have lots of music, from The Stooges to James Brown, and in some parts you will feel like you are watching a musical. But I like it. I like the way it looks cheap and simple. It maximizes its freedom as an indie project by going out of the mainstream way.
And I was so intrigued by the dialogues, especially the accents. Very British, very Cockney. For a non-English speaker like me, listening to (and understanding) these dialogues might require extra efforts. You know, where characters don’t pronounce “t” or “r”, or where they say “life” as “loif”. But we will have sharp dialogues that went straight to the point. IMDb did not list this film as a comedy, but for me, with all of its British one-lines and humors, this is undoubtedly a comedy. I don’t mean to be offensive, by the way, because I think this is a positive trademark that distinguishes “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” from many films about gangsters we usually see come from America.
But this is not a film that simply shows up with styles and dialogues. Guy Ritchie created a story that connected so many characters I sometime could not keep tracking. And from the story alone, I can say that “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is quite winding with lots of turns and accidents. It’s like Coen-written story where a character doing things that eventually trigger another character to do other things and so on. And from all the seemingly unpredictable, unplanned events in the story, there comes the comedy. Ritchie was kind enough to put on some extra characters to make the comedy more alive, and the thriller side of this film becomes so significantly dropped (you see, most of its violence are off-screen and there is not much blood as well). And, oh, the ending was priceless. It summed up that “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is supposedly a crime-comedy.
Actually I have nothing much to say about the cast. I could not even recognize them all except Jason Statham, that looks much smarter and cooler than the other three guys in the group. But it is obvious that Guy Ritchie made some well-crafted characterizations. He did prepare to the details of the characters, and the result is a full packet of eccentric and colorful characters that blends perfectly to each other. The characters are the reason of why I still feel so entertained even if I sometimes did not really understand where the story led me to.
Finally, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” is a British bleak crime-comedy that collaborates creative writing, freestyle presentation, and never-boring characters. It happens to have a quite devious story you don’t have to understand too seriously, since you will be entertained by the characters anyway. The first half might feel a bit strange (or boring) but I think it was just a matter of how I adapt with Guy Ritchie’s inventive way of storytelling. This film is amusing in a non-formulaic fashion.
▲ Vibrant characters, British dialogues and punchlines, high humors, eccentric style of presentation
▼ The story involves many characters and turns that might confuse viewers
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS | COUNTRY UK YEAR 1998 RATING Rated R for strong violence, pervasive languages, sexuality and drug content RUNTIME 107 min GENRE Crime, Thriller, Comedy CAST Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham, P. R. Moriarty WRITER Guy Ritchie DIRECTOR Guy Ritchie MORE INFO