Comical Cockney Criminals Converge
I hadn't watched "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" since it came out but having recently watched "Smokin' Aces" I had this burning desire to watch it gain. Now I mentioned "Smokin' Aces" because it is in some ways similar and by that I basically mean that both movies are darkly funny convergence crime capers where we watch the set up which has various groups of people and at some point these people all converge in a melee of craziness. Now whilst "Smokin' Aces" does a reasonable job of doing this Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" does a brilliant job and really sucks you in to the comedy crime caper and the various crazy characters.
Four mates Eddy (Nick Moran), Tom (Jason Flemyng), Bacon (Jason Statham) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) pool their money so that Eddy can enter a high stakes card game run by Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarty). Unfortunately for them the game is rigged and Eddy leaves with them owing Harry half a mill and with a week to pay him or else Barry The Baptist (Lenny McLean) will send Big Chris (Vinnie Jones) around to collect in another way. Desperate they overhear the guys who live next door planning to rob a group of drug growing Toffs of their drugs and money so come up with a cunning plan to rob their neighbours when the return from robbing the Toffs. At the same time Harry's right hand man Barry The Baptist has ordered a couple of Northerners to steal two antique guns for his boss.
In a way "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is what you could call a modern attempt at doing screwball comedy but interlacing it with violence. As such we have various set ups such as Eddy and his friends owing Harry half a mill, Eddy's neighbours planning to steal drugs and money from Toffs who just happen to work for drug dealer Rory Breaker, the two Northerners doing a little job for Barry the Bishop who works for Harry and then there is Big Chris Harry's debt collector. All of these various set ups not only introduce us to all the various characters but established their characters as well from the accident prone, whiney Northerners to the comical hard Barry The Baptist and the thuggery of Big Chris. It is because every single group of people are defined that in an ironic way each of them are quite entertaining. Oh and at the same time of doing all this we do see how Eddy, Bacon, Tom and Soap who really are the centre of the story end up half a mill in debt to Harry the Hatchet.
Now it doesn't take a genius to work out what will happen next but it is great fun as all these groups converge and their links are elaborated on. To give a quick idea the criminals who live next to Eddy plan to rob a bunch of drug producing Toffs, in turn Eddy and the boys plan to rob their neighbours to pay Harry back and they get a couple of antique shot guns to use which happen to be the ones which the Northerners are meant to have stolen for Barry on the orders of Harry. As you can see it is comically connected and that is barely scratching the surface because then you have Rory Breaker, Big Chris and Chris the Greek to involve in this criminal craziness.
What this means is that basically everyone almost comes together, Rory Breaker ends up with the criminals next to Eddy this links to Big Chris finding the guns and taking them to Harry but he is being followed. And again I am barely scratching the surface because it is so imaginatively, crazily connected but just when you think it can't get any crazier it does. Oh and we can't forget the Traffic Warden, now he is an important man.
Whilst the crazy connections and criminal convergence is comically entertaining the styling is also part of why "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is so entertaining. From scenes which look washed out then becoming full colour to snappy, frenetic editing interweaved with slow motion. Throw in a lot of innovative cockney slang, plenty of violence and a prominent soundtrack which mixes recognizable songs with moments of incidental music which remind you of an old fashioned western and you have something which is entertaining on so many levels. In a way you could say it was Guy Ritchie's twist on a Tarrantino movie but it feels more than that, it feels like Ritchie owns the style rather than just imitating others.
As for the performances well every single performance is entertaining be it Lenny McLean as Barry the Baptist or Vinnie Jones as Big Chris. To be honest whilst the likes of Nick Moran, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher and Jason Statham are at the centre of the story it is because every single character is so unique and so well acted that everyone, even those in the smallest of parts are just as much the stars.
What this all boils down to is that "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is still a pretty brilliant movie, darkly funny, crazily and comically violent and full of great characters. And to be honest with a style and concept which has since been imitated more than just a couple of times it must be good.