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From Under A Rock: Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels

November 22, 2017 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels
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From Under A Rock: Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels  


This week’s pick was a comedy that I first watched in high school and loved it because I thought it was “cool.” This week we’re revisiting it to see if it really holds up!

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron chose The Handmaiden. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock to show him Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels.

Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels
Released: March 5th, 1999
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Guy Ritchie & Peter Cattaneo
Nick Moran as Eddy
Jason Flemyng as Tom
Jason Statham as Bacon
Dexter Fletcher as Soap
Vinnie Jones as Big Chris

Michael Ornelas: I picked it because I remember loving it, but that was before my tastes changed. I still liked it a lot, but it’s not as cohesive as I once thought it to be.

Aaron Hubbard: This was fun. It reminded me a lot of Trainspotting in terms of tone while being about very different people.
Michael: One of this movie’s strengths is also one of its biggest problems. There are a ton of characters who are all distinct and fun in their own ways. But no one really gets any depth outside of the main four guys. Everyone else only gets a few minutes of screen time and it makes it hard to connect. They did an alright job with Vinnie Jones given how he has his relationship with his kid, but when he gets the money toward the end of the movie, it’s kind of like “Oh yeah, that guy was in the movie earlier.” It’s a big mess. It’s a fun mess, but still a mess.

Aaron: I definitely had some trouble keeping track of who everyone is and why I should care about them. But as you said, it’s a fun mess. Gangster movies often have a big cast, and it can be tough to manage. I’ve seen it done poorly (last year’s Free Fire comes to mind) and done well, and this was done somewhere in the middle. But I think the film works anyway by being really funny and in a setting that isn’t as familiar to American audiences. I’d like to give this another go, it seems like the type of movie that may be served by rewatches and familiarizing myself with everyone a little more.

Michael: Yeah and just because you’re not really familiar with who anyone is or what their motives are doesn’t make it any less fun when they get a big moment. One of the best moments in the film comes from a character we know literally nothing about as she’s wasted and pretty much passed out the entire movie until she comes to life and unloads a big ass machine gun on our baddies (and fails spectacularly).
Working on a Budget
Aaron: What stuck with me most about this film is the visual aesthetic. The film obviously has a small budget and comes off amateurish but it has charm anyway. I thought they did a good job of using lighting to give the whole film a dirty, grimy atmosphere. It wasn’t pretty in the traditional sense but I think it complemented the film. That’s the sign of a good filmmaker; using what’s available to you to make the best movie you can.

Michael: Yes. Its style is very clear and unique. It found its voice in its visuals and its editing style. It has all the tropes of heist movies without ever feeling like a cliché heist movie. There were a lot of preparation quick-shot montages and tracking close-ups of people walking with the duffel bag. It used all the same type of music that these action heist movies use, but never felt like a copy of anything. It’s actually really cool to see a movie be such an archetype of its genre while feeling fresh and original.

Aaron: Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to get a fresh coat of paint. I really enjoy seeing smaller movies like this, especially when I’m bombarded by blockbuster tentpoles that waste hundreds of millions of dollars on stuff that’s half as entertaining. And looks like garbage.
The Guns!Watchmen
Michael: A lot of movies fall short in their final moments. They build you up for something that they never intend to give you. They want their main characters to fail in what you are led to believe their objective is. And then when all looks lost, they throw something else your way for a final moment of satisfaction. This movie, in that regard, has the perfect ending and it’s utterly hilarious. The shot of Tom on the bridge with his phone in his mouth, hanging down to push the guns into the water, and ending seconds before we know the actual fate of what happens is a thing of beauty. A perfect ending can make the entire journey worthwhile, and that is the case with this film.

Aaron: It’s a pretty fantastic shot. And it kind of sums up what I like about this movie. To me, it’s primarily a comedy, but just happens to take place in a grimy heist movie. Ending on a joke is not always the best call, especially in a violent film, but this was a good call.

Michael: Always end on a joke. That’s my philosophy! What did one muffin say to the other muffin? Nothing. Muffins don’t talk.

Aaron: This was fun. I haven’t seen many Guy Ritchie movies and most of them failed to connect with me, but this was an interesting look at his early work. I’ll probably see it again.


Michael: It didn’t hold up for me as well as I had hoped, but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t a blast. This was a “perfect” movie for teenaged Michael, and it’s clearly not perfect now that I rewatch it. But that didn’t stop me from having a good time.


Aaron: This also reminded me of The Boondock Saints, a movie I loved in my teens and still mostly like despite moving on to much better films since.

Michael: Heh. Yeah…

What’s your favorite heist movie?

Next week:

Aaron: So Justice League came and went. I thought we’d commemorate the ongoing funeral of DC’s credibility by watching Zack Snyder’s first (and best) superhero movie.

Michael: I’m excited for this, even though I’ve heard very polarizing things about the film.

Aaron: I like most of it, but I definitely know why it’s dismissed by a lot of people.

What’s your favorite film adapting a graphic novel?

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The final score: review Very Good
The 411
This was a fun movie. To many, that is all you need, and we’re not going to argue against that. The movie isn’t without its problems (character depth and a plot that zig-zags all over the place), but it never stops being fun. And that’s great.