Originally released in 1998, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a heist movie directed by the now legendary Guy Ritchie.
The film had a production budget of £800,000 ($1.35 million), but managed to gross $28.1 million at the box office.
As well as being a commercial success, the film helped to launch the careers of several of the cast members, and a British TV series called Lock, Stock…. The show first aired in 2000 and ran for seven episodes.
The film sees four friends playing an underground game of three-card brag, a game that is similar to many other variations of poker. One of the friends, Eddy, is a card sharp and they plan to use his skills to earn a big payout.
However, the game turns out to be rigged and the friends lose the £100,000 that they had scraped together. This leaves the friends in £500,000 of debt to “Hatchet” Harry Londsale, who sends a debt collector called Big Chris to make sure the friends settle their outstanding balance within a week.
Eddy later learns about a gang of thieves, who are planning to steal money and contraband from another, different gang. He hatches a plan to rob them once they’ve completed their heist.
The friends end up getting embroiled in a web of crimes, which are being committed against and between various groups of ne’er do wells, including those working for Hatchet. They ultimately lose the money, but end up with some antique shotguns that they eventually realise are worth a lot of money as one of their friends attempts to dispose of them.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels stars an ensemble cast that includes Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones. Jones, who had been a former professional footballer, and Statham, who had been a diver, received international acclaim for their roles, which helped to boost their careers immeasurably.
The film works thanks to its strong writing and pitch-perfect delivery from the actors. They perfectly capture the stereotypes of the cockney underworld of times gone by in their accents, mannerisms, and grittiness.
The cast portrays the strains placed on them by the conflict between their loyalty to each other, and the building pressure from the chaos and violence around them. They manage to demonstrate the intensity of the situation they find themselves in, as they quickly lose control, while also keeping the quick wit and sarcasm that runs through every East London scoundrel.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was received well by both critics and the public alike. The film has an audience score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes as well as mostly positive reviews from critics.
Many made comparisons between Guy Ritchie’s work and that of Quentin Tarantino due to their character-heavy plots and love of the underworld.
An Instant Classic
The film became an instant classic as soon as it was released, blending suspense, humour and intelligence while being fast-paced throughout. The writing, camera work, cast, editing and every other element that has gone into this film has made it a timeless movie that can be watched over and over again.
One to Watch Again
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is one of those films that makes an enjoyable re-watch, throwing up various intriguing details you may have missed the first time round.
The speed at which the interwoven stories unravel and crash together, as well as the way the loot changes hands multiple times, makes it impossible to follow everything the first time. However, Ritchie has simultaneously managed to make the story easy enough to grasp, unlike some movies where it can be a chore to keep up.
The film is more than 20 years old now, but it continues to be a fun and enjoyable watch, and something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s available on most streaming platforms, as well as DVD and Blu-Ray.