Starring Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jason Statham, P.H. Moriarty, Vinnie Jones
Directed and written by Guy Ritchie
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Two years before the release of his appraised film Snatch, Lock-Stock set the way for Ritchie’s infamous London crime-crash film genre. Long since overshadowed, this film still hold a special place in the minds of British film lovers, especially on this side of the pond!
Set in London, Lock-Stock follows cockney-quartet Eddy (Moran),Soap (Fletcher), Tom (Flemyng) and Bacon (Statham). Eddy has been a master of the art of card games since he was little, so the gang decide to fork over £25,000 each to enter him into an illegal card game hosted by infamous porn king ‘Hatchet’ Harry (Moriarty). The game is crooked and Eddy loses, resulting in him and his friends owing £500,000 by next week. Meanwhile, Harry has his eyes on two antique shotgun that are about to go on sale at an incredible price, and his henchman hires two incompetent scousers (that’s two people from Liverpool, for you foreign folk) to steal them before they go up for auction. Unaware of what they are, the scousers sell the guns, leading them on a goose chase to try to get them back. As some public school weed growers, a dangerous debt collector (Jones) with his boy, another small-time gang trying to make hard money and a volatile little black gang leader get dragged into the escalating problems, the whole criminal underbelly starts to fall into chaos.
That’s a less than useless description! Basically it’s a lot of people getting dragged into what is ultimately nothing but greed and pride.
I should start by stating that this film is almost identical to Snatch in every sense. The only position in which this seriously differs is that the camera angles are less daring in this film than in its follow-up. Perhaps Ritchie got confidence from this film that allowed him to do something more outlandish with Snatch?
Guy Ritchie is almost Britain’s answer to American film leader Quentin Tarantino. These two film-makers create such unique pieces that their names are almost seals of approval in themselves, trademarks that stop anyone having a serious attempt at doing what they are (or were) doing. Their style of storytelling is very similar too, with both men putting an emphasis on comedy in dark situations. I found this to be a really funny film, however the comedy is quintessentially British so I’m unsure as to how it translates into a global market. The story itself is very clever and interwoven, however I only gave this film about 75% of my attention and as a result I did get lost at points. However, that never really took away from the entertainment value of the film. Like most Guy Ritchie films, the characters in Lock-Stock are exciting, fly-off-the-wall types with all sorts of weird quirks! I must say that generally, I cannot think of any other film writer/director that makes more interesting characters than Guy Ritchie, especially in Lock-Stock and Snatch.
You can see that the cast buys into what Ritchie is trying to do here, with all of the actors involved doing a good job of embodying the Ritchie style of character. I particularly liked Nick Moran as Eddy, the ‘lead’ (I say lead loosely) character who seemed to be one of the more normal characters in the film. He is also one of very few lead actors to appear in Lock-Stock and then not in Snatch two years later. Performances overall were generally on form, but it’s hard to pick many that stand out from the bunch.
This being Guy Ritchie’s first feature-length film, his now trademark directing style is just starting to bloom in Lock-Stock. If you’ve seen his later work, particularly Snatch, then you’ll understand that he can be very unconventional – almost wacky – with his shots, however the directing in this film is much more grounded and safe than you would now come to expect from him.
Overall, it is understandable why this film would be overlooked in favour of Snatch. Telling an almost identical story, with almost identical characters, this is almost a ‘get your foot in the door’ movie that gave him a springboard to really leave his foot in with Snatch. This is not to say that this isn’t a good film, as it is still one of the best British crime films I’ve seen, it’s just a shame for Lock-Stock that two years later Guy Ritchie made Lock-Stock 2.0!