The 1990s in British cinema was a whirlwind of Merchant Ivory films, Northern-based comedies and things written by Richard Curtis. Partly this was a knock on effect from the recession of the late 80s and early 90s, but it seemed that, when it came to major motion pictures, in the UK we played it safe. As the decade progressed, smaller unknown directors started to emerge and none so successful as Guy Ritchie, whose hugely successful Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is now making its debut on Blu-ray.
Part gangster movie, part crime caper and part comedy, Lock, Stock is set in the backstreets of London within the underbelly of the criminal world. The movie’s focus is on a group of four friends, Eddie (Nick Moran), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), Tom (Jayson Flemyng) and Bacon (Jason Statham), who are putting £25,000 each of their own money into a card game that Eddie is sure he can win.
The trouble is Eddie has underestimated his main opponent, Harry ‘The Hatchet’ Lonsdale (P.H. Moriarty), who is determined to win not only Eddie’s money but his father JD’s (Sting) bar. With some help from the hidden camera and his henchman, Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean), Eddie is in for half a million pounds and has five days to come up with the cash after that, before he starts losing fingers to Big Chris (Vinnie Jones).
Desperate to come up with the cash, the boys come up with a plan to rob their drug-dealing neighbours, who, in turn, are planning a heist on a rich boy-run marijuana farm, ensuring there will be enough cash and enough product to sell to cover the debt.
Needing to look armed and dangerous, the boys approach Nick the Greek (Stephen Marcus) to get them some guns, who ends up buying two antique muskets from northern lad’s Gary and Dean (Victor McGuire and Jake Abraham) who had stolen them on a job for Harry.
As time passes, everybody’s lives become entangled and the fun really begins to start.
I have to say, hand on heart, I am not a huge fan of Guy Ritchie and a lot of his newer movies have left me cold (I’m hoping Sherlock Holmes, which I’ve not yet seen, will change that!) but Lock, Stock is just one of those movies I could watch again and again because it has the right mix of story, characters, pace and really does feel like one of those great UK gangster movies you used to get in the 60s and 70s. The twists and turns lead to a lot of ‘oh…’ moments on first viewing, but further viewings really do leave you with a sense of how clever a storyteller Ritchie can be when he tries.
Cast-wise there are no missteps with the ensemble put together here, mixing together professional actors with those still dipping their toes in the acting world. Credit has to be given for the casting of Lenny ‘The Guv’nor’ McLean who was made to star in this type of movie, as was Vinnie Jones, who made a startling debut in this movie and has since stuck with the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ for the rest of his career choices, making himself a Hollywood star in the process, as did fellow cast mate Jason Statham.
Strangely enough, Nick Moran, who was touted as the next big British thing, fell away from the spotlight; maybe he should have taken a leaf out of their books.
Lock, Stock is the kind of film that is a bit rough around the edges, but once you get inside it you have a diamond.
Having been made to be look rough, Lock, Stock doesn’t come across as well on this format as you may hope, but in many ways, this is a good thing as, if it was too sharp and tidy, the atmosphere of the film would be shifted.
Sound is on DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 but, again, it isn’t as fantastic as you would hope. Saying that, it also doesn’t sound awful.
Addition-wise the disc comes with two forgettable features, ‘One Smoking Camera’, which looks at the photography of the film and’Lock, Stock and Two F*****g Barrels’ which is a compilation of how many times the f-bomb was dropped in the movie.
The Film:The Disc:
Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is released on Blu-ray on January 25 available from the Den Of Geek Store.