Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Lock, stock and two smoking barrels (5 Stars)

This is the third film in my Five Star Month. Maybe I should stop counting, before I make a mistake like I did in my October horror films month. That was embarrassing.

This film was released in 1998, but I didn't watch it till more than five years later. I heard about it when it was released, I read the rave reviews, but I dismissed it as "not my sort of film". I don't watch gangster movies. But this film is unique. Well, it was unique at the time. Director Guy Ritchie made another film two years later, "Snatch", in a similar style. It was criticised for being too identical to his first big hit, but I actually prefer "Snatch", which I'll review later this month.

The film's plot seems very simple, but the twists and turns it takes make it difficult to keep up. Four friends get in debt to Harry the Hatchet, a London East End gangster who has made his fortune by selling pornography. They have only seven days to pay back half a million pounds before they start losing their fingers. They overhear their next door neighbours planning to rob a marijuana farm, so they decide to rob the robbers after the crime. The robbery is a success. The money is enough to pay off their debts, and they decide to sell the marijuana for extra profit. Unfortunately they offer the drugs to the gangster who owned the marijuana farm. This leads to an outbreak of gang warfare, with the hapless friends caught in the middle as bodies drop all around them.

And the smoking barrels? They can almost be forgotten in the middle of the mayhem, as a parallel plot, just as involved. Harry has sent thieves to steal two antique shotguns. By accident they were sold to the four friends to use as weapons in their robbery. Harry tries to retrieve them, not knowing that his debtors have them.

Overall a brilliant film, very British, touches of comedy and made great by the inventive film editing. Click here to view the trailer.

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