Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

(In theaters, March 1999) This film not only has one of the best titles of the year, but will probably also stand out on my year’s end list as having one of the most convoluted plot I’ve seen recently. It starts out with a rigged poker game and ends up as one riotously funny crime comedy. Bodies pile up like cordwood, but the audience never stops laughing. It’s unfortunate that the thick English accents often distract from the plot (though it’s far worse at the beginning), so the rumors of a Tom-Cruise-produced American remake don’t disturb me as much as they should. While it is true that the characters might have been fleshed-out a bit more -probably beginning by reducing their numbers from the start-, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is directed with great flair and benefits from a good soundtrack. (The inclusion of “Payback” is appropriate, given that it shares at least an attitude with the Mel Gibson vehicle.) Aptly described as a meeting between Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction, this film is worth your time.

(Second viewing, On DVD, October 2001) Revisiting this film after two years and director Guy Richie’s second feature –Snatch– is a lot like a short visit to a few rowdy friends. Yes, the film holds up quite well to another viewing. Granted, Snatch is a more polished film and a cooler piece of cinema, but you won’t feel cheated by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The directing, editing and complex storyline will manage to astonish you again. The DVD adds the essential subtitles, hurrah! A great crime comedy. You know you want to see it another time.

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