Sunday, May 13, 2012

#636. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Directed By: Guy Ritchie

Starring: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran

Tag line: "They lost half a million at cards but they've still got a few tricks up their sleeve"

Trivia:  The movie was dedicated to Lenny McLean, who played Barry the Baptist. He died of cancer exactly one month before the movie's debut in England

I have no idea how director Guy Ritchie kept track of things in his cockney masterpiece, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; along with juggling a number of stories at once, he also found a way to tie them all together in the end, wrapping the movie up in a nice, neat package. I’m amazed by the man’s concentration level; just sitting here trying to figure out how I’m going to explain it all is giving me a headache! goes nothing.

Eddy (Nick Moran), a novice card shark, asks his pals to front him some money so he can get in on the hottest game in town. This game, operated by local gangster Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty), requires a minimum of a hundred thousand pounds just to walk through the door. So, Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) gather up all the moolah they can muster and send Eddy to the table with a small fortune, which they hope will grow into a larger one. What they don’t know is Harry has his heart set on taking over a popular neighborhood bar, which happens to belong to Eddy’s father, J.D. (played by rock star, Sting). So, Harry does more than cheat Eddy out of his money; he drives the poor boy hundreds of thousands into debt, giving him one week to pay what he owes. It's Harry's hope that Eddy will run to his father for help. But the four friends concoct a number of schemes on their own to raise the cash, each more dangerous than the last.

Around this tale of gambling debts, many others unfold, with characters making their way in and out of the mix at a regular clip. Nick the Greek (Stephen Marcus) is a wheeler and dealer who can buy and sell anything. Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean) got his name because he likes to drown people. He's Hatchet Harry’s right-hand man, and at Harry’s request, Barry arranges for the theft of two antique rifles, hiring Dean (Jake Abraham) and Gary (Victor McGuire), a pair of bungling crooks, to handle the job. Big Chris (Vinnie Jones) also works for Harry, collecting money from the deadbeats who refuse to pay up. Dog (Frank Harper) lives in the flat right next to Eddy's, and steals drugs for a living. Plank (Steve Sweeney), a member of Dog’s gang, tells Dog about an easy job that promises to net them large quantities of both ganja and cash. The victims of this particular heist will be a quartet of college students named J (Nicholas Rowe), Winston (Steven Mackintosh), Charles (Nick Marcq) and Willie (Charles Forbes), who grow marijuana by the bushel in their apartment. What Dog doesn’t realize is these four actually work for Rory Breaker (Vas Blackwood), a half-crazed pusher nobody ever crosses twice.

Confusing? Might seem so on paper. But the movie itself isn't the least bit hard to follow because even though director Ritchie keeps things flowing along at a breakneck pace, he also takes the time to ensure his audience is perfectly in tune with what's happening on-screen. We sit in awe of how seamlessly he meshes these stories together, as if each were a natural extension of the other. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is fast, funny, satisfying, and even quite brilliant.

Watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and you'll see how much fun complexity can be.


Skyhawk Reviews said...

Great pick! Its been a while since ive seen this one, i need to go back and revisit it.

Great blog, btw. :)

Dave B. said...

Skyhawk: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment!

LOCK STOCK is a favorite of mine, a movie I like to pop in every so often when I need a pick-me-up. Enjoy watching it again.

And thanks for the kind words regarding the blog. They're much appreciated!

Nora B said...

One of my favorite movies of all time...great review, it is difficult to explain how awesome it is - great job!