Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Guy Ritchie’s debut feature, about an upstart card player who loses half a million in a rigged game and has a week to raise the cash.

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Alternative titles

  • Two Smoking Barrels Alternative

Introduction

“The appeal of the film’s gangster look is simple. They appear ’ard but are so well-dressed that no one in their right mind would want to mess up their suits.”
Claudia Croft, Evening Standard, 1998

The biggest word-of-mouth British hit since Trainspotting (1996), Guy Ritchie’s rollicking feature debut breathed new life into the gangster genre. While the central quartet of con-artists were played by professional actors (Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran and Jason Statham), additional colour is provided by casting real-life former villains such as Lenny McLean and – most memorably – footballer Vinnie Jones, who parlayed his cameo here into not only a disproportionately prominent position on the film’s poster but also a subsequent Hollywood screen career.

The real star however is Ritchie’s stylised dialogue, more Damon Runyon than authentic East End, and his dense multistranded plotting, culminating in a conclusion as tantalisingly open as that of The Italian Job (1969). His flashy yet confident direction belies the film’s tiny budget, much of which (ironically, in view of the film’s central conceit) had to be raised in a hurry when initial funding fell through.

Many of the British gangster films released in the film’ wake were unwatchable: three exceptions are Gangster No. 1 (2000), Sexy Beast (2000) and Ritchie’s own Snatch (2000)

Cast & Credits

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