107 Min | Comedy – Crime | August 1998
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Review: Guy Ritchie’s hip, highly stylized ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ is a truly remarkable film, not only for its appropriately pyrotechnic camera work, but also for its seemingly flawless, puzzle-perfect script/screenplay. While the picture’s main focus is on a group of lads who invest money in a high-stakes, rigged card game and lose, the broader story concerns approximately eight different groups of criminals whose paths cross (more> than once, in some cases) during various illegal pursuits money, guns, drugs, even revenge. The film is quite violent, both on and off screen, but it’s also uniformly humorous throughout. It’s important to note that the four central characters (a cook, a card sharp, and a couple of guys who sell “discounted” items) are interested only in acquiring the money to pay off their enormous debt; they kill no one. The same applies to the laid-back college boys who “grow copious amounts of ganja”.
The cast is comprised of mostly young, veteran, male actors. In fact, the only female in ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ doesn’t even speak, though she handles a machine gun fairly well. Sting appears briefly in several scenes as a bar-owning father figure. While his secondary performance is solid, as usual, it is also unmemorable. The soundtrack is first-rate, from the 60’s hits of James Brown to the contemporary beats of London’s underground. The groovy, pulsating music and lyrics are often succinctly synchronized with the action and dialogue in the film, creating a theatrical rhythm that is fairly uncommon in cinema (from any period).
Critics’ endless comparisons of Ritchie’s film with the works of Quentin Tarantino and Danny Boyle’s ‘Trainspotting’ stand mostly unwarranted, as these comparisons take away from the inventiveness and originality of ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’. Ritchie’s film is a much more involved, complex, layered work than the aforementioned comparisons. While Tarantino’s films are very strong on dialogue, screenplay, and editing, they often lack creative camera work and direction. Boyle’s ‘Trainspotting’ does have a resembling “feel” to ‘LS&TSB’, but aside from its Great Britain origins, there really is no need for comparison. ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ is essential viewing.
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