Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Four shiftless pals from London pool their resources to buy into a high stakes card game, hoping to strike it rich behind their card sharking pal.  Instead, they wind up deeply in debt to an underworld mobster with only a week to come up with more cash than the four of them have ever dreamed of.

After throwing their savings behind their poker stud and coming out on the wrong end of a fixed game, four friends are forced to try and find enough money to cover their debt to “Hatchet” Harry.  When one of the group finds out his neighbors are planning a heist of their own, the four decide to rob the robbers and things quickly spiral out of control.  People get double and triple crossed, bumbling crooks rob from their employers and accidentally steal from themselves as the capers get muddier and a poker debt grows out of control into a drug heist, stolen guns, underworld shootouts between rival gangs looking for the same people and four friends who have no clue that they’re in the middle of it all.

This is the classic heist movie which launched a thousand ships, introducing the world to Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones.  All three shine – and Sting turns out to be a pretty badass tavern owner in his own right.  The story is as enthralling as it is convoluted, the characters are memorable, the dialogue is punchy and every ridiculous misstep rings with a strange believability for an ever-expanding cast of characters, most of whom seem completely in over their heads.

This movie would be one for the ages if Ritchie hadn’t followed it up so quickly with the even better “Snatch”.  As caper films go, this one is tough to beat.  Whether you’re looking for drama, comedy, or lots of action, this flick really does have it all: lock, stock and barrel.

 

Stars: 4.5/5

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