Focus Features // 1998 // 120 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // November 2nd, 2006
Locked 'n loaded director's cut
Ah, another director's cut of a great film. But can Guy Ritchie improve on his already fantastic gangster comedy?
Eddie (Nick Moran, The Musketeer) is very good at cards. He and his three friends have each pitched in $25,000 to play at the table of "Hatchet" Harry Lonsdale (P.H. Moriarty, The Long Good Friday), not realizing that the game has been rigged against him. Now Eddie, Tom (Jason Flemyng, From Hell), Soap (Dexter Fletcher, Doom), and Bacon (Jason Statham, Crank) have to pay a lot of money in a very short time. They develop a plan that involves ripping off a bunch of violent drug dealers who are ripping off some weed-growing chemists who are ripping off a big-time gangster. If that sounds complicated, just wait until you have to juggle all the supporting characters and stories. It's a jumbled up blast of profanity and violence.
I've wanted to see this director's cut of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels for a long time. I've been a big fan of the film since it came out, and they've had the longer cut in Britain for a few years now. Ultimately, I'm a bit disappointed.
Now, that's not to say that I don't like the film as much. It's still a fantastic gangster comedy. A few of the new scenes even add a bit of previously missing depth. This inch of depth comes at the cost of the film's formerly superb pacing, however. Now, there are lengthy conversations just when the film needs to move forward. A clip at the beginning explaining the rules of the poker game ahead of time isn't needed. Extra conversations as the boys are planning the job definitely aren't needed. Information about how JD (Sting, Dune) got the bar in the first place is interesting, but slows the action down too much.
The good news: I still really like this movie. When it first came out, many people dismissed it as a British ripoff of Pulp Fiction, but it's an unfair way to approach the film. For one thing, Guy Ritchie hadn't seen Tarantino's movies before he made the film. More importantly, the similarities end at both being twisty, profanity-laden crime comedies. Where Pulp Fiction slowly unfolds with its stylish posing, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels bursts onto the screen like a rhino on speed. It carries that momentum through the full running time. Unfortunately, it's that momentum that starts to slip in this new edition.
Ultimately, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a movie that was cut right the first time. Guy Ritchie knew what he was doing. He created a brilliant little masterpiece, and he should have left well enough alone.
The DVD is decent, but doesn't offer much in the way of an upgrade from the previous edition. The video still looks soft, as would any film blown up from 16mm. The color looks great and the lighting is shown off well, but you simply can't make a film look better than the source. The sound transfer is more impressive, featuring clear dialogue (a must with accents this strong), a pleasant thump in the low end, and liberal use of the surrounds. The sound makes up for the weak video.
The extras don't give viewers much reason to upgrade either. There's a short featurette on the film's cinematography, as well as a two-minute splice of the film's multitudinous expletives. It's amusing once, but it's not a reason to drop money on the disc.
Had this edition of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels contained both cuts of the film and better extras, I might recommend an upgrade for fans of Guy Ritchie and his breakthrough masterpiece. As it stands, however, I can't really do that. All we get for our money is an inferior cut of the film with the same quality of transfer and a few lame extras. Don't bother with this one.
This Director's cut offers twelve minutes of footage we don't need. The milk, as they say, is a bit sour, and I'm not drinking it.
Review content copyright © 2006 Joel Pearce; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Focus Features
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Cinematography Featurette
* Expletive Compilation