Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

This has certainly lost a lot of its spark in the twenty years since its release, diluted no doubt by the gamut of imitators which continue to plague the UK genre and STV markets in its wake. Still, Lock, Stock remains an effective calling card for Ritchie’s rapscallion stylings and the way he manages to tie all of the unruly characters and plot threads together in a nice bow by the end is a nifty trick. Whatever the movie lacks in subtlety and finesse, it more than makes up for in confidence and charisma.

The central quartet of lads are all especially well cast and the assortment of tough guys, numbskulls, dealers and geezers are also well-drawn and colourful. Vinnie Jones’s Big Chris is deservedly the poster-boy and even on this rewatch – I’ve seen this movie dozens of times but this is my first in a while – that character still pops. The soundtrack is truly terrific too, and the one key component all Ritchie wannabes never had the budget – or, I’m guessing, connections, given that this was a pretty low-budget affair itself – to match. They also didn’t possess Ritchie’s sense of style.

I suppose I’ll always have a soft spot for these early Ritchie movies. It was genuinely thrilling to see British genre jams this cocky, stylish and shamelessly entertaining during that very brief window when they weren’t done to death, especially when you were around ten years old when they hit.

Watched on blu-ray.

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