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Guy Ritchie's first feature; a visual knock-out and a clever rehashing of the heist film.

  • Jan 28, 2011
*** out of ****

If Guy Ritchie has a gift than it's an eye for pure wit. He's not exactly the best at making sense out of his films, but I like to think of it as his "style". Ritchie's first feature, "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", is a delightfully funny and fresh modern heist flick; much like the other Guy Ritchie films I've seen before. There's plenty of charm and humor to be found in this fresh and smart film. It's not a spectacular film, but in many ways it could be called Guy Ritchie's best film. I assume that the members of the cult like it more than I do. It's a minor cult film, but it's a cult film none the less. Good thing it's actually respectable, contrary to the other crap that tends to get the "cult" label. When you look at his career, Ritchie's "Lock, Stock" doesn't exactly rank as significantly better than the rest of his energetic heist/crime flicks. However, I have to admire the craft and skill that went into it. You could even say that it is good filmmaking. "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is a film which I found irresistibly over-the-top to the point where it's almost memorable. No, I don't suppose it's perfect. But as a Guy Ritchie-directed British action romp, it doesn't exactly need to be. This is the film that put many people on the map; some of the names including Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham, and Vinnie Jones. In the end, it's a film about style and charm. I did indeed like it more and more as it went on; and the ending is a hilarious sort of cliff-hanger. None the less, it's not a perfect or particularly great film. It has a different appeal to different people; I assume that some will like it, some will love it, and some just won't bother remembering what the experience meant to them. This is not an ingenious film, but I like how Guy Ritchie embeds humor and his good old stylish brutality into a typical heist story. I find myself recommending "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", as long as he (or she) who I recommend it to is open to the genre, the direction, and even the level of comedic violence contained in the film. It's a solid package, I must admit. It may not be a masterpiece, but for what it is, "Lock, Stock" packs a heck of a punch. Maybe it's even a sucker punch; as it delivers unexpected wit. There's some solid writing that went into the dialogue, and while the story is flawed, it's plenty entertaining. Take it as you will, but as long as you give the film a chance, then I could really care less about what you make of it. It could either be a whole lot of senseless (and often times profane) babble, or it could be a fun remixing of the classical heist film. Either way, there's fun to be had here. You may not agree with the style, but I'd consider you a smart person if you chose to stop following the film for a second to simply admire Ritchie's strong sense of style. This is not required...but I'd sure as heck like to see it. Food for thought.

Ritchie doesn't seem to want his films to make a whole lot of sense half of the time. He's not one to tell a "bad" story, it's just that he hasn't perfected the kind of nonsensical stuff he's trying to deliver to the audience. None the less, I think as you choose to think less and less about "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", the more you're going to admire it for its pure craft and clever wit. The film is about four friends who each put some money into a card-game against a wealthy man named Harry. When they loose the money and owe it to the big man, the lot needs to find a way to pay it off. Since this is a heist flick, the story goes from there to where you'd expect it to end up; with a heist plan. After overhearing the neighbors talk of their own little criminal intentions, the four friends start their own life of crime by intending to rob the neighbors of their own money. This all happens in one point in the narrative. Other stories are being told here; such as one involving two Brits who are hired by Harry to retrieve the "two smoking barrels" to which the film's title refers to. Each little sub-plot comes together to form one great, but admirable, mess of a plot. The messiness of the story does indeed hurt the film at moments, but then again Ritchie is able to create interesting and clever characters who speak even more clever dialogue. Even if quite a bit of it made little sense, I quite enjoyed watching "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". It's a very entertaining film if you can look at the direction and craft rather than the story-telling. I think that the frantic plot might actually FIT the style of the film overall, but that does not stop it from holding the film down a wee bit. Otherwise, it's a genuine good time. Ritchie's films usually entertain me out of their own admirably keen and swift madness. I think Ritchie has a gift for capturing mayhem, and "Lock, Stock" shows his love for his natural-born abilities almost too well. I suppose Ritchie should be proud that he's been able to entertain me so well for so long, since very few directors like him strike me as...oh, I don't know: likable.

The cast is immensely likable. Half of the cast members were NOT familiar faces, but maybe that's part of why I liked each of them as much as I did. Jason Flemyng leads the cast as Tom. Dexter Fletcher plays Soap, Nick Moran dons the role of Eddie, and Jason Statham's character bears the name of Bacon. This is how Jason Statham got popular since to my knowledge, quite a few people liked this film. His performance isn't completely spectacular, but this is what I wish he did more often. Vinnie Jones plays the intimidating but endearing "Big Chris", who is more of a likable guy than I'd want (or expect) him to be. Sting plays JD, Steven Mackintosh plays Winston, and P.H. Moriarty plays Harry. The cast is certainly promising and luckily, just about everyone delivers. Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones in particular were entertaining to watch, although the same might as well go for the rest of the cast as well. If you like any of these stars then that's all the more reason to want to give "Lock, Stock" a good go. It's not a wonderful or great film, but I did like it quite a bit.

I admire the craft and effort that was put into this very film. Guy Ritchie's direction proves better than his story-telling, and I found it kind of endearing despite its flaws. "Lock, Stock" is action packed and soaked with comedic brutality, which in all honesty, I kind of had to like. This isn't a film of meaning or serious sense, but it's a film that's meant to be funny and violent. In doing so, it's a rather grand success. I think "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" essentially does everything a modern heist flick can do. It's not as amazing as it probably could have been, but there's flare to this film. And I like flare. I suppose you want me to tell you what the "flare" is. To start, I think it's only appropriate to speak of the film's visual style. The cinematography is absolutely spectacular and helps to give the film a stylized and fairly awesome appeal. Its part of what made the film interesting enough to stick with, and the music also helped. In all honesty, I actually loved the film's soundtrack. The music is about what you'd expect from a film like this, but that's not a particularly bad thing when you're a guy like me. All these stylish elements made "Lock, Stock" an easy winner in my book. It's not an excellent achievement for Ritchie, but as of now, it's his best film. For its cleverness and craft, I highly recommend "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". It's not as great as it may want to be, or as it might be to some, but for me it did what it wanted to do. It aimed to provide a good time and not much more. In doing so, it was a success indeed. I liked this film because it feels good to watch something fresh and clever. This film is both of those things; thus I couldn't help but applaud everyone involved when it was finally done. It's entertaining, smart, and fast. Just how I like it.

Cult films are appealing to me at times. It depends on what they're known for I suppose. "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" has the kind of cultish charm that I kind of admire, and it remains consistent throughout. Yes, it's not a perfect film. But I will still call it good filmmaking. I think Ritchie has the start of something very good with this flick, and while I didn't love it, there's a lot to look at here. The movie spectacular visually, entertainment-wise, and on a level of cleverness. Ritchie breathes some new life into the seemingly tired genre of heist films, and this is one of the better ones within the new film movement. I will admit that there are better heist films out there, but if you're a fan of the genre, chances are you should see this if you haven't already. It's a film for fans of Guy Ritchie, Vinnie Jones, or chaotic violence in general. It's not as if the violence is over-the-top since it's meant to be "funny", and yes, I laughed at times. You could even say that "Lock, Stock" is a bloody hoot of an action/heist crime thriller. It's fast and funny, and I couldn't have had it any other way. Ritchie knows what he's doing when it comes to crime/action films, and he also knows what he's doing when it comes to visual craft. He's no artist, but I admire what Ritchie has done here. He's made a spectacular piece of entertainment that serves as one of 1998's most singularly entertaining pieces of filmmaking, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I recommend that you watch it, since it's neither offensive nor over-the-top in a particularly bad way. I suspect that if you like these kinds of films, then "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" will work its chaotic and crafty magic. I highly suggest that you look into it.

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January 30, 2011
In many ways, I may have liked this more than "Snatch"....this was indeed a sweet movie! Thanks, Ryan!
February 01, 2011
Yes, your welcome.
More Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Ba... reviews
review by . March 28, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
..well, almost all. this is a gloriously misanthropic british movie that hinges on a crooked card game that leaves our four heroes in debt for a half a million pounds to a gangster with the unpropitious name of Hatchet Harry. The boys attempt to raise the money and the world in the form of various crooks and ganja dealers tries to take it from them.  the dialog is crisp and ironic. unfortunately, it's masked by the unfortunate tendency of the english to speak, well, english and the wise …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Cockney boys Tom, Soap, Eddie, and Bacon are in a bind; they owe seedy criminal and porn king "Hatchet" Harry a sizable amount of cash after Eddie loses half a million in a rigged game of poker. Hot on their tails is a thug named Big Chris who intends to send them all to the hospital if they don't come up with the cash in the allotted time. Add into the mix an incompetent set of ganja cultivators, two dimwitted robbers, a "madman" with an afro, and a ruthless band of drug dealers and you have an astonishing movie calledLock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Before the boys can blink, they are caught up in a labyrinth of double-crosses that lead to a multitude of dead bodies, copious amounts of drugs, and two antique rifles.

Written and directed by talented newcomer Guy Ritchie, this is one of those movies that was destined to become an instant cult classic à la Reservoir Dogs. Although some comparisons were drawn between Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino, it would be unfair to discount the brilliant wit of the story and the innovative camerawork that the director brings to his debut feature. Not since The Krays has there been such an accurate depiction of the East End and its more colorful characters. Indicative of the social stratosphere in London, Ritchie's movie is a hilarious and at times touching account of friendships and loyalty. The director and his mates (who make up most of the cast) clearly are enjoying themselves here. This comes ...

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Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Release Date: March 5, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: November 5, 2002
Runtime: 1hr 45min
Studio: Universal Studios
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