The cast of characters: Big Chris, a debt collector who won't let his victims curse in front of his son; John the Baptist, a tough guy who earned his moniker by drowning those he didn't fancy; Hatchet Harry, a loan shark... [more]
The cast of characters: Big Chris, a debt collector who won't let his victims curse in front of his son; John the Baptist, a tough guy who earned his moniker by drowning those he didn't fancy; Hatchet Harry, a loan shark and smut peddler who flogs his enemies with a black dildo. The scenario: a shoot-out between drug dealers that ends in Shakespearean style, dead bodies strewn across the proverbial stage. Sound like John Woo? Quentin Tarantino? Indeed, but slap these people around a crooked card game in the East End of London, and what emerges is Guy Ritchie's first feature, "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels."
The film is another case of making the macabre laughable, rendering the grotesque chillingly hip. It belongs to the type of moviemaking that began with "Bonnie and Clyde" and evolved with Scorsese, then took a detour through Hong Kong, and finally landed in the hands of Tarantino. Guy Ritchie follows in this vein by launching multiple (seven, to be exact) narrative trajectories across his film. Watching "Lock" for the first time, one wonders if all of these trailing plots, dangling like so many shards of a battered kite, will ever pitch into a cohesive whole. Amazingly, they do. Guy Ritchie demonstrates that he is a master juggler who can wrap up the act with a flourish and a wink.
Ritchie's style is knowingly self-conscious. This is a director who isn't afraid to pause the action for a jumble of voice-over, delivered in a patois that even causes most Brits to scratch their heads. During one conversation in Cockney, subtitles start popping up on screen. In America, this device might seem quaint, since the rhythm of Cockney is still foreign. But in Ritchie's native England, the subtitles call attention to the linguistic split within the culture and the humorous ways in which language can morph into a signifier for a different strain of society -' an underground where the action really happens.
Ritchie's next film, "Snatch," will follow in the same vein as
"Lock," but will feature a host of international stars, among them Brad
Pitt, Benicio del Toro, and Dennis Farina. (Currently circling rumors put Madonna in the cast as well.) The success of "Lock" had investors throwing pound upon pound at Ritchie, but he has limited the budget to 10 million: he claims that the filmmaker then keeps the film under control. With a lot on his shoulders, he'll need to keep his act honed if he's going to keep pushing the hip-crime genre into wholly new territories. The world is anxiously awaiting the results. [show less]