- Rated R
- Buy the BD
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
irector Guy Ritchie has yet to shake the comparisons to cult phenom Quentin Tarantino and has been considered on many occasions as his British counterpart, but is that really such a bad thing? Tarantino has been influencing young directors for nearly a decade since the release of his tour de force, "Pulp Fiction." His debut feature, "Reservoir Dogs," was an even bigger inspiration for independent filmmakers when it hit Sundance in 1992, and undeniably so to Ritchie's own debut, "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." The film reflects the same kind of material that you'd find in a Tarantino flick, including quick-witted dialogue, aggressive editing, and a unique blend of violence and humor. It's no surprise then that "Lock, Stock" is one of the best crime capers in recent memory.
And with every crime caper comes the typically convulted plot, which "Lock, Stock" definitely has. The main story revolves around four best pals – Eddy (Nick Moran), Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) – who pool together 100,000 pounds for an once-in-a-lifetime card game at the table of the city's notorious porn king, Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty). Eddy is the resident card pro of the bunch, but when he becomes the victim of a cheating card shark, the group find themselves 400,000 in debt and in danger of much worse. In order to repay Harry before the seven-day extension expires, the gang forms a plan to swindle a bunch of marijuana and cash that was stolen by their criminal neighbors. Factor in a duo of idiot thieves, Hatchet Harry's right-hand man, a gang of black badasses, and a mercenary-for-hire (Vinnie Jones), and you have one of the funniest cast of characters in ages.
It's true that Ritchie has pinched a good number of cinematic styles from Tarantino, but unlike Tarantino's customary nonlinear narrative, Ritchie presents his clever tale with "Seinfeld"-esque coincidences that haphazardly bring all of his characters together in the end. Better examples of this method can be found in Ritchie's sophomore project "Snatch," but it still works comedic wonders in "Lock, Stock" as well. And while the acting really isn't top notch (Ritchie prefers real criminals playing actors, instead of the other way around), there are some great breakout performances by Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones, who are fast becoming hot commodities in the industry as we speak.
The film also serves as the perfect introductory bridge to British cinema, because even though the script's dialogue is deeply rooted in cockney slang, the humor is still very relevant to American audiences. "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" was one of the last great films of the late 90's, but it also wasn't widely recognized as a brilliant genre film until after Ritchie crossed the pond with "Snatch" – much like how "Pulp Fiction " was to "Reservoir Dogs ." And even though these bigger films have garnered a lot more attention over the past decade, both debuts are arguably better than their successors.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Universal's decision to release "Lock, Stock" on Blu-ray in conjunction with "Snatch" was a smart one, but it's essentially a direct port of the recent Locked 'N Loaded edition that came out on DVD a few years ago. While the director's cut that appeared on that release hasn't been included, the Blu-ray does include the "One Smoking Camera" cinematography featurette and a two-minute expletive reel called "Lock, Stock and Two F**cking Barrels." This is in place of the US and UK trailers, cast and crew biographies, making-of featurette, and cockney dictionary that was included on the original DVD release. Why they couldn't have included these extras, let alone track down the cast and crew for an audio commentary is beyond me. Was Guy Ritchie too busy babysitting?