Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Cover There is an old cockney song I that would like you to hear... ahem. “Knees up Mother Brown, Knees up Mother Brown. Under the table you must go, Ee-aye, Ee-aye, Ee-aye-oh. If I catch you bending, I'll saw your legs right off. Knees up, knees up – never get the breeze up – Knees up Mother Brown”. FINITO! Now what does that song actually mean? F*ck knows. Just like Director: Guy Ritchie; and Actors: Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and Vinnie Jones. They did not know it for 107 minutes in 1998.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Question: What do you get, when you put together four East London lads, Tom (Jason Flemyng), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), Eddy (Nick Moran), and Bacon (Jason Stratham) – plus a gambling competition? Answer: Big trouble! Because Eddy – the card-player of the bunch – looses all of their money to underworld hoodlum, Harry "The Hatchet" Lonsdale (P.H. Moriarty). Worst still, due to this ‘game’, they are also in debt to him for over hundred thousand pounds too.


So what do the lads do about this, huh? Horse racing? No. Printed porno? No. Well, what about if Eddies Dad, JD (Sting), pays off Harry's debt with his pub? Fat chance. Instead, they come across a plan that their crocked neighbors are going to deploy – one involving these fiends robbing a drug den full of drugs and cash.

However, before this comes to pass, a number of things have to be sorted out first. (1) Tom goes to a dodgy acquaintance of his, Nick "the Greek" (Steven Marcus), to set up a buyer for the drugs they are going to steal, as well as to buy from him some guns that he and his buddies are going to use to steal the drug with. (2) Unbeknown to Tom and Nick, the gun’s that Nick sells him – antique – is meant for Harry, due to a robbery he arranged with a couple of Scousers. And (3) Harry gains the employ of hoodlum, Big Chris (Vinnie Jones), plus his son, Little Chris (Peter McNicholls) to lean on Eddies Dad, JD, for his cash.

Double shit!

Now once the day of reckoning comes around, somehow, the crocked neighbors manage rob the drug den, only for a masked Tom, Soap, Eddy, and Bacon, to rob them after – plus a traffic warden too. So everything works out for the best then, huh? And the four guys just have a party? Yes – the guys do party at the pub.

Still, while they party, three separate scenarios of discoveries and mistaken identities happen next.

Firstly, when Nick’s buyer for the stolen drugs – Rory Breaker (Vas Blackwood) – discovers that the drugs that he was going to buy, belongs to him, he and his boys mistakenly goes to Eddy’s place – via Nick – to sort him out. Secondly, when Eddy’s crooked neighbors mistakenly discovers’ that it was Eddie and his friends who robbed from them, they too go to Eddy’s place to sort him out as well. And thirdly, when Big Chris discovers the leader of the crooked neighbor’s leaving Eddies place due to a skirmish between his gang and Rory’s gang, by mistake, he thinks that it he is Eddie, and punches him out before leaving with the stolen cash and his antique guns – to give to Harry of course.

Triple Shit.

What then transpires is both multi-faceted, alarming, and emotional to boot. As crooks fall – Scousers are duped – friends are shocked – guns are valued – cash is invested – and people talk shit.

Quadruple shit.

To paraphrase Vinnie (I’m from Essex) Jones in this film “It’s been emotional”. And do you know why its been emotional? 'Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels' bloody well has been - that's why.

Please note, I do not mean this in a somewhat poncy way, as if I should shed a tear to seeing someone being killed on screen in a similar manner to Tom and Jerry! Instead, I mean this in a conversant way, in how you can identify with what has been presented on screen, all due to the manner in which the actors act and the words fall.

This is because I am a cockney you know – someone who is familiar with the eastern quarter of London

However, does this particular character trait make my perspective overly biased towards this film, or overly critical towards this film? Hmm? F*ck knows – bit of both probably – as it makes me happy in places, while sad in others.

The Cast of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

For example, all the actors are great – the meandering story is innovative – the stylised camera work is bold and artistic – and the overall package is just wonderful to watch. Though, to contradict what I have just said – some of the Essex based actors can’t do cockney for shit – in places the story is overtly farcical – the stylisations deployed makes this film look more like an advert at times – and the prettification of the overall package also feels a bit flat to me too.  

OK, so does any of this make sense? Do I like this film? Yes. Do I hate this film? No. So what is the matter then? Hmm? The authenticity I suppose. Listen, ‘Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels’ is a good film, its just that I find its like a bastardised version of an old 'Carry On' film – just without the double entendres. The characters are archetypical and the dialogue is yokel, and they convey an almost two-dimensional quality to this tale. Yet, at the same time, the story is multi-faceted and the style has depth, and conveys a more lavish quality to this tale.

Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Damn – I think that I am trying to over analyse this film a little too much – and it is a film that does not need to be over analysed, does it.

Well – let’s face it – it’s a jolly crime caper based in East London, where everyone walks around in well fitted trench coats and designer stubble. There – that is this film in a can – a can that is nice to open, serve up, and enjoy.

But please – don’t be like me – and become ‘emotional’.