Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels AKA Two Smoking Barrels
R1 - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Stevie McCleary & Noor Razzak (25th October 2006).
The Film

I saw "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels" about seven years ago and managed to only remember one thing about it: at some point, they're in a pub. With Sting. And my only memory of Guy Ritchie's other popular film "Snatch" (2000) is, at some point, I'm pretty sure there's some boxing. So, for quite a few years I've been under the assumption that I didn't like his work (well…what people say is the good stuff…once Madonna comes into the picture it'd be downhill for anybody) due to my lack of remembering anything that a bar, a singer, and a boxer. I should have, however, been operating under the reality that I have a terrible memory sometimes and this was, is, and will always be a bloody great flick.
For those who have missed out on it for the last eight years, we follow Eddie (Nick Moran) as he enters a high stakes card game with the help of his friends Tom, Bacon and Soap (Jason Flemyng, Jason Statham and Dexter Fletcher respectively) and the situation spirals out of control from there. Soon we have the tales of a porn king, weed merchants, a brutally unstable man-for-hire (Vinnie Jones) all weaving together until we have had more than one bloodbath commence. All because of the one defining feature of any gangster film: money. Eddie and his boys need half a million of it and have a very limited time to find it in. It's an almost impossible situation for the lads and keeps you guessing the whole way through about how it's going to pan out.
The strangest thing about watching the film today and not remembering the first time I saw it, is that so many films have stolen and aped the style of this one. English gangsters and the deals gone wrong between them have become an almost embarrassing cliché at this point. Even the direction and style of the film has been copied as much as every wannabe director who saw Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" (1992) and thought, "Gangsters in suits and ties? Cool, I can make a movie too." Ritchie's use of slow motion, quick cuts and innovative camera work was a breath of fresh air at the time but we soon found it turning up in every film of its kind. Still, nothing beats going back and watching those who originated or honed a particular style. It still holds up even after eight years and countless rip-offs. Just look at the scene where Eddie realises how deep he's gotten after his big card game. The sense we get of his world being turned completely around is so masterly shot that we get a real sense of his horrifying situation.
This Director's Cut has twelve minutes of extra footage which I had to look up on the Internet, as I obviously couldn't remember myself. Upon learning what was new, I found it hard to imagine the film without the extra bits. They extend the narrative and give it more of a circular pattern while expanding the roles of all the minor characters.
The film really gets you from the beginning and never lets you go. Often humorous and always violent with quirky dialogue (this time it will definitely stick), a fantastic soundtrack and a type of frenetic energy that is often imitated but hardly surpassed. "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels" is balls to the wall every step of the way. It's been around long enough to know that you don't need to explain much, other than two words: Bloody fantastic.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this anamorphic transfer is nothing special. I found it soft and didn't display detail very well. This could have something to do with the fact that this film was shot in super 16mm and blown up to 30mm but I've seen far better super 16mm film presentations in the past so there really is no excuse for this. The colors were also unimpressive, washed out and faded, this may have been a stylistic choice but as compared to my UK Region 2 this transfer is much more washed out that it should be. I also found that there was quite a bit of film grain running through this print, especially in low light scenes. This transfer is far from terrible, it's entirely watchable but it certainly could use some improvement.

Audio

Much like the transfer the audio isn't exactly inspiring. While the dialogue is clean I found the track to be rather sparse and surrounds kicking in during the action gun fight scenes and whenever there was music in the scene, otherwise it was rather lacking in punch and certainly lacking in depth. This film should have an immersive quality to it and this track does not supply it.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Universal have released this film with a few scant extras that include a single featurette, a montage clip and a series of bonus trailers below is a closer look at these extras.

"One Smoking Camera" is a featurette which runs for 11 minutes 9 seconds, this looks at the planning, storyboarding and shooting of the scenes in this film. The director of photography talks about the lighting and cameras used to achieve certain shots, as well the editor chimes in with some of the stylistic techniques used in the film as they take a look at some key scenes from the film. Ultimately I was rather disappointed with this extra, although it had some worthwhile information it was too short and could have further explored the filming techniques on this low budget film.

Next up is "Lock, Stock and Two F**king Barrels" a montage clip which runs for 1 minute 54 seconds. This clip is essentially a glorified trailer, it's a compilation of the expletives from the film, and that's about it. Totally useless.

Rounding out the extras are a series of bonus trailers for:

- "Inside Man" which runs for 38 seconds.
- "Scarface: Platinum Edition" which runs for 49 seconds.
- "Magnum P.I., Knight Rider and The A-Team" season sets spot which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Waist Deep" which runs for 34 seconds.

Overall

What a disappointing release, the extras are thin and the transfer isn't up to scratch. This film deserves a lot better.

The Film: A- Video: D+ Audio: C Extras: D+ Overall: C-

 


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