Why not kick off the very first of hopefully many throw back Thursday’s with Guy Richie’s feature directorial debut Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Released back in 1999 just before the turn of the century the film ventures into the underground London crime scene following the story of various crime groups and mobsters all of which quickly become intertwined in each others business to a level that I can only describe as stupidly hilarious.
The plotline centrally follows the story of Bacon (Jason Statham), Tom (Jason Flemyng), Eddy (Nick Moran) and Soap (Dexter Fletcher) and begins when Eddy rings the rest of the group into lending him money to play cards against a notorious mob boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty). Little to any of the men’s knowledge Harry has his second hand man watching in on Eddy’s cards from another room on a camera and eventually runs a cocky Eddy down into half a million pounds worth of debt, which is either paid off with cash or their lives.
In their pursuit of making the half a million back Eddy and the boys manage to almost unintentionally involve seemingly every group of mobsters, drug dealers and street criminals in the local area. All of which seem to be ironically either paying back debt or taking revenge on others trying to pay back debt. Making for a pretty funny looped chain of events.
Now that all the background is out of the way let’s get to looking back on the film itself.
The idea/concept of the film is a quality one, and though it isn’t anything most aren’t already somewhat familiar with, is well written. You’ve always got to be careful when you mix an element of comedy with a thematically fairly serious setting but Guy Richie in his debut feature film seemed to balance the two with considerable success. Some moments don’t land as favorably as what may have been intended and various scenes for a while leave you pretty confused as to just what exactly you are watching, but overall Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels delivers in most of it’s key areas.
Once you figure out the main characters and things start to get moving, the ability for this film to invest you into the story and the characters but yet also find yourself cracking up at the onslaught of both jokes and purposely over the top scenes, accents and characters is impressive and always crucial for films like this. Witty and creative in it’s plot choices Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels may not appeal to all, but for those can get past the confusion of being thrown straight into the deep end in the first 10-15 minutes lies an experience worth going back and having.
For a film made just before the turn of 2000, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels visually isn’t anything immensely impressive but stands up to expectation and with some decent camera work and a couple outside-the-box shots matching the mood there really isn’t much to complain about.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is well casted, and most of the main cast puts in quality performances to bolster the quality of the film, and given there are some particularly strange characters in this one there had to be a set of talent capable of taking on the roles, thankfully for the most part this proves to be the case. Does this necessarily mean all the characters are fantastic outside of the actors performing them, no, and there are certainly some odd moments that perhaps could’ve been left out of the final cut.
However, overall the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels cast proves to be well put together with particularly notable performances from a developing Jason Statham and Nick Moran.
A small budget witty English crime piece, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels burst Guy Richie onto the scene and proved his indisputable gift for intricate yet hilarious storytelling. Everything about this film is over the top, but in that lies it’s very novelty. Energy, action or pace don’t prove a problem for this piece and with a well casted team of actors putting in for a compelling plot you can’t help but look back on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as whilst not anything groundbreaking, certainly one of the better works in it’s field and arguably Guy Richie’s finest.