arrels concerns the problems of 4 British buddies
who owe a big shot mobster name Hatchet Harry $500,000 English pounds and must
get the money together in one week. The problem came about when the four buddies
saved up $25,000 each in order to deal their friend, a card shark name Eddie,
into a high-stakes poker game. Eddie loses their money and more when Harry, who
is in the card game, uses a hidden video camera to cheat. Now
up to their heads in trouble, the boys must find a way to repay the mobster
before their fingers are chopped off by the mobster's many enforcers, including
a bone breaker who takes his son to jobs with him.
Add to that a group of
potheads who is making a killing feeding the pot habits of everyone in England,
a neighbor of Eddie's who happens to be another mobster who is intent on
stealing the potheads' profits, and singer Sting showing up as Eddie's father,
who owns a bar he will lose if his son doesn't get the money together. Barrels
takes the Pulp Fiction road on its way to an Expensive Two Guys in a Room
movie, in that there are multiple characters with multiple storylines that
eventually converges into one. Everything seems out of place and unrelated until
they start to coalesce and reminds us that yes, we are watching just one movie.
Needless to say, your ability to believe in the existence of one coincidence
after another is paramount to your enjoyment of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking
Guy Ritchie shows flashes of brilliance in camera work and
technique. There are scenes, as when a pothead girl suddenly
comes awake during a robbery and opens fire with a machinegun, that is just an
inspiration. The film is shot in a bleached style, giving the characters and
their environments a brown-tinted look, making everyone and everything seem pale and
unreal. The rest of the movie is made up of groovy camera
angles, fast-forwards and freeze-frames.
With a movie like this, made up of more
than 30 characters with extensive dialogue, it's easy to get lost in who's who.
Ritchie uses freeze frames and a narrator to try to keep us organized, but even
then, it's quite hard to follow. What makes the movie even more difficult to get
a handle on is that characters start to look like one another after a while. The various mobsters, for example, all look, act, and talk the same.
There is nothing to really distinguish them from one another.
Like the highly
overrated Pulp Fiction
that came before it, Barrels offers very
little to the modern world except a fantasized version of the criminal
underworld as envisioned by a video store clerk. (I don't know Ritchie's
background, but Tarantino's background as a video store clerk ala Kevin Smith is
legendary. Ritchie and Tarantino obviously have no clue as to the
"real" underworld -- their version of the underworld is akin to a
Disney version of Saving Private Ryan starring Mickey Mouse.)
If you like goofy fun with spurts of violence, take a look
at Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels. If you don't, well, don't.