The 51st State aka Formula 51 (2001)

(In theaters, October 2002) If “Samuel L. Jackson in a kilt” doesn’t raise your eyebrow and your interest, that’s fine, move along, nothing to see here… but for everyone else, Formula 51 is a fun little crime comedy. Dynamically directed by Hong Kong action maven Ronny Yu, this film follows the adventures of a very American chemist (Jackson, wearing a kilt throughout) stuck trying to make a drug deal in Liverpool, UK with the help of a reluctant sidekick (Robert Carlyle) while under the gun of a hired assassin (the unspeakably cute Emily Mortimer). Oh, there’s also Meat Loaf, as “The Lizard”. I’m not going to pretend that this is a classic for the ages, but there are quite a few fun moments here and there, from a dynamic opening credit sequence to a golf-club whuppin’ to a car chase (where both leads go “aaah!” at the same time, thereby fulfilling a basic requirement of buddy comedies) to plenty of double-crosses. It’s crunchy good fun, though there’s a bit too much spilt bodily fluids to be clean fun. There’s some amusing material on British/American differences, which is fitting for a Canada-Britain collaboration, I suppose. Younger fans of action/crime comedies should consider checking this one out. More mature viewers may wish to pass…

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