Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: Director's Cut Guy Ritchie

Maybe it was the mood I was in but the first time I saw Guy Ritchie’s debut fracas I was rather negatively impressed. It seemed the harbinger of bad times in British cinema, a wiping clean of the acid, socially relevant filmmaking of the decade previous. Perhaps that prediction came true, but somehow this "unrated director’s cut” managed to win me over. It’s story of a quartet of blokes (Nick Moran, Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher) who enter a card game and leave owing 500,000 pounds is rather dizzying in its juxtaposition of crime lords, flunkies, ganja growers and one very mean hit man (Vinnie Jones) all after something, particularly the two priceless antique rifles that manage to keep changing hands. There are some iffy performances but the film is rather smartly written (if only competently directed) and possesses a nice bit of Mamet/Tarantino brio in its macho stream of insults and expletives. One has to hand it to whoever cast this thing with every tough-looking weirdo in London; it’s a movie of faces and they all manage to convey the scuzzy cool to which the film aspires. It’s still a very, very insubstantial movie, not a patch on real Brit crime films like Mona Lisa or The Long Good Friday. And not only has its once hip soundtrack lost considerable lustre but there’s a bit of parody with a black drug lord that edged ever so slightly into the racist category. But if you can stomach that, it’s still a promising debut from a director that had yet to betray himself with forays into Madonna movies. Extras include a featurette on the cinematography that’s at once detailed and a tad too credulous, and a needless compilation of the film’s foul language. (Universal)