A funny, gritty and very well crafted film – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels successively manages to juggle several groups of criminals, neatly allows all of their ventures to intersect, and then controls the multiple strands and characters and brings them to a satisfying conclusion. It’s a lot of fun to watch, providing that you like your comedy dark, and the multiple storylines help to keep the film moving at a decent pace. Guy Ritchie’s sure hand over the material manages to balance the entire film – notably the levels of violence and humour, which are never allowed to shift the film into either being a farce or an outright bloodbath. Strong performances, a great director and a sharp screenplay make this one come highly recommended from me, unless you really can’t handle gritty London criminals and the violence which comes with that environment. It’s worth saying that whilst the film is violent, the violence is relatively scarce for a film of this nature and when it’s excessive, it’s often placed just off camera – implied rather than splattered across the screen.
Good performances all round, however when you’re talking about creating a memorable and scene-stealing character, all praise has to head toward Vas Blackwood who manages to be hilarious and menacing simultaneously. His portrayal of the lunatic gang leader is the one you will take away from the film despite everyone else doing a good job with their roles. He pretty much represents the film being both inherently violent but also darkly humorous. The style of the film is worthy of note, it establishes its own identity with a use of slow-motion and voiceover that feels fresh rather than tired, and the soundtrack makes for a very welcome addition to the film, particularly in one sequence where multiple narrative strands are linked together through a great and simplistic musical sequence.
One thing I will criticise is the almost entirely male cast, the few females that are present are unimportant and, save for one scene, they have absolutely no funny, cool, or violent moments. It’s not a big problem, but it is unnecessarily imbalanced. Overall though Lock Stock comes across as very polished piece of entertainment and one that I have found can hold up against multiple viewings.