Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Movie


Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Four Jack-the-lads find themselves heavily - seriously heavily - in debt to an East End hard man and his enforcers after a crooked card game. Overhearing their neighbours in the next flat plotting to hold up a group of out-of-their-depth drug growers, our heros decide to stitch up the robbers in turn. In a way the confusion really starts when a pair of antique double-barrelled shotguns go missing in a completely different scam.
UK
IMDb   8.2 /10
Metacritic   66 %
TheMovieDb    8.2 /10
RottenTomatoes  75 %
FilmAffinity   7.8 /10
Creators
Director Guy Ritchie
Writer Guy Ritchie
Information
Release Date1998-08-28
Runtime1h 47mins
GenreAction, Comedy, Crime
Content RatingR (R)
AwardsTop Rated Movies #147 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 13 wins & 8 nominations.
CompanySummit Entertainment, The Steve Tisch Company, SKA Films
CountryUK
LanguageEnglish

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a 1998 British crime comedy film written and directed by Guy Ritchie, produced by Matthew Vaughn and starring an ensemble cast featuring Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Steven Mackintosh, Sting, and also Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham in their feature film debuts.

The story is a heist involving a self-confident young card sharp who loses £500,000 to a powerful crime lord in a rigged game of three-card brag. To pay off his debts, he and his friends decide to rob a small-time gang who happen to be operating out of the flat next door.

The film brought Ritchie international acclaim and introduced actors Jones, a former Wales international footballer, and Statham, a former diver, to worldwide audiences. Based on a $1.35 million budget, the film had a box office gross of over $28 million, making it a commercial success.

A British television series, Lock, Stock..., followed in 2000, running for seven episodes including the pilot.


Plot

In London, long-time friends and small-time criminals Eddie, Tom, Soap, and Bacon put together £100,000 so that Eddie, a genius card sharp, can buy into one of "Hatchet" Harry Lonsdale's high-stakes three-card brag games. The game is rigged and the friends end up owing Harry £500,000. Harry then sends his debt collector Big Chris, who is often accompanied by his son, Little Chris, to ensure that the debt is paid within a week.

Harry is also interested in a pair of expensive antique shotguns that are up for auction and gets his enforcer Barry "the Baptist" to hire a pair of thieves, Gary and Dean, to steal them from a bankrupt lord. The two turn out to be highly incompetent and unwittingly sell the shotguns to Nick "the Greek", a local fence. Barry threatens the two into getting the guns back. Eddie returns home one day and overhears his neighbours—a gang of robbers led by a brutal man called "Dog"—planning a heist on some cannabis growers loaded with cash and drugs. Eddie relays this information to the group, intending for them to rob the neighbours as they return from their heist. Preparing for the robbery, Tom visits Nick the Greek to buy weapons and ends up buying the two antique shotguns.

The neighbours' heist gets underway and despite a gang member being killed by his own Bren gun and an incriminating encounter with a traffic warden, they succeed, returning home with a duffel bag full of money and a van loaded with bags of cannabis. Eddie and his friends ambush them as planned and drive away in the neighbours' van containing the marijuana and the traffic warden. They transfer the loot to their own van and return home. They then have Nick fence the drugs to Rory Breaker, a gangster with a violent reputation. Rory agrees to buy the cannabis at half price but two of Rory's men visit the house of the cannabis-growers, discover they've been robbed and the cannabis he just bought had been stolen from his own growers. Rory threatens Nick into giving him Eddie's address and tasks one of the growers, Winston, to identify the robbers.

Eddie and his friends spend the night at Eddie's father's bar to celebrate. Dog's crew accidentally learns that their neighbours robbed them and set up an ambush in Eddie's flat. Rory and his gang arrive instead and in an ensuing shoot-out, all except Dog and Winston are killed. Winston leaves with the drugs, while Dog leaves with the two shotguns and the money but is waylaid by Big Chris, who incapacitates him and takes everything. Gary and Dean, having learned who bought the shotguns and unaware that Chris works for Harry, follow Chris to Harry's place.

Chris delivers the money and guns to Harry but when he returns to his car he finds Dog holding Little Chris at knifepoint, demanding the money be returned to him. Chris complies and starts the car. Gary and Dean burst into Harry's office, starting a confrontation that ends up killing them both along with Harry and Barry. Returning to see the carnage at their flat and their loot missing, Eddie and his friends head to Harry's but upon discovering Harry's corpse, they decide to take the money for themselves. Before they are able to leave, Chris crashes into their car to disable Dog and then bludgeons him to death with his car door. He then takes the debt money back from the unconscious friends but allows Tom to leave with the antique shotguns after a brief stand-off in Harry's office.

The friends are arrested but soon acquitted after the traffic warden identifies Dog and his crew as the culprits. Back at the bar, they send Tom out to dispose of the antique shotguns—the only remaining evidence linking them to the case. Chris then arrives to give back the duffel bag, from which he has taken all the money for himself and his son and which is empty except for a catalogue of antique weapons. Leafing through the catalogue, the friends learn that the shotguns are actually quite valuable (worth £250,000 to £300,000) and quickly call Tom to stop him from disposing of the guns. The film ends with Tom leaning over a bridge, with his mobile phone in his mouth and ringing, as he prepares to drop the shotguns into the River Thames.


Cast

  • Nick Moran as Eddie
  • Jason Flemyng as Tom
  • Dexter Fletcher as Soap
  • Jason Statham as Bacon
  • Steven Mackintosh as Winston
  • Vinnie Jones as Big Chris
  • Nicholas Rowe as J
  • Lenny McLean as Barry "the Baptist"
  • P. H. Moriarty as "Hatchet" Harry Lonsdale
  • Frank Harper as Dog
  • Sting as JD
  • Huggy Leaver as Paul
  • Stephen Marcus as Nick "the Greek"
  • Vas Blackwood as Rory Breaker
  • Vera Day as Tanya
  • Alan Ford as Alan
  • Danny John-Jules as Barfly Jack
  • Victor McGuire as Gary
  • Rob Brydon as the traffic warden
  • Steve Collins as boxing gym bouncer

Soundtrack

Soundtrack from the Motion Picture Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Soundtrack album by
various artists
Released1998 (UK)
23 February 1999
GenreRock
pop
britpop
reggae
Length62:54 (UK)
43:32 (US)
LabelIsland (UK)
Maverick (US)
Guy Ritchie film soundtracks chronology
Soundtrack from the Motion Picture Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
(1998)
Snatch
(2000)

The soundtrack to the film was released in 1998 in the United Kingdom by Island Records. Madonna's Maverick Records label released the soundtrack in the United States in 1999 but omitted nine tracks from the UK release.

* Track omitted from 1999 US release.

RegionDate
United Kingdom28 August 1998
United States23 February 1999

Production

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The production of the film followed Guy Ritchie's single short film which preceded Lock, Stock. As stated in filmscouts.com:

Although it was Ritchie's first feature, his previous short film The Hard Case was sufficiently impressive to secure interest not only from financial backers but also persuaded Sting to take the role of JD. "I'd seen Guy's short film and was excited by the pace and energy in it. The way in which he handles violence and action appealed to me. I don't like gratuitous violence. I think it's much more chilling when it's suggested rather than graphic." For Ritchie, getting exactly the right actor for each role was essential. "The casting took forever and we auditioned hundreds of people, but I was determined to hold out until we got the real McCoy." This led to employing several genuine ex-cons, who certainly invest the film with its menacing undertones. Ritchie also looked to the celebrity arena to secure the right cast such as Vinnie Jones. "I didn't hesitate in casting Vinnie as I have the most incredible respect for his acting capabilities."

A one-hour documentary of the production of the film was released featuring much of the cast along with Ritchie.

Locations include Shoreditch for the gang hideout and Clerkenwell for JD's bar.


Marketing material

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The film poster depicting the lead characters as very graphic black and white portraits against a stark white background was created by the advertising photographer John Mac, who is known for his advertising campaigns for luxury brands. He would use a similar technique some years later in 2019 when creating the front cover for the psychological thriller The Chair Man by Alex Pearl, which features a man in a wheelchair as a black silhouette against a stark white background.


Reception

Box office

The film was released on 28 August 1998 in the United Kingdom and was the second-highest grossing local production for the year behind Sliding Doors with a gross of $18.9 million. It was released on 5 March 1999 in the United States, where its total gross was $3,753,929 (equivalent to $5,831,863 in 2020).

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 65 reviews, with an average rating of 6.80/10. The site's critical consensus reads "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is a grimy, twisted, and funny twist on the Tarantino hip gangster formula". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100 based on 30 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

John Ferguson, writing for the Radio Times, called the film "the best British crime movie since The Long Good Friday". Roger Ebert, in his review for Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: "Lock, Stock, etc.'' seems more like an exercise in style than anything else. And so it is. We don't care much about the characters (I felt more actual affection for the phlegmatic bouncer, Barry the Baptist, than for any of the heroes). We realize that the film's style stands outside the material and is lathered on top (there are freeze frames, jokey subtitles, speed-up and slo-mo). And that the characters are controlled by the demands of the clockwork plot. But "Lock, Stock'' is fun, in a slapdash way; it has an exuberance, and in a time when movies follow formulas like zombies, it's alive".

Accolades

The film was nominated for a British Academy Film Award in 1998 for the outstanding British Film of the Year. In 2000, Ritchie won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. In 2004, Total Film named it the 38th greatest British film of all time. In 2016, Empire magazine ranked Lock, Stock 75th on their list of the 100 best British films, with their entry stating, “to call the plot "complex" is to do it a disservice – it's all so slickly done, delivered with such balls-out confidence and written with such an amazing turn of phrase that somehow the convoluted to-ing-and-froing works like clockwork. So well, in fact, that over 18 years later, it remains Ritchie's finest film, a fantastic achievement from a first-time director who took a group of meticulously-cast but relatively unknown actors and spun them into solid fackin' gold.”

Director's cut

Focus Features released the Locked n' Loaded Director's Cut in 2006. This version of the film contains more of each of the characters' backstories, and runs at a total time of 120 minutes.