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The 51st State,
This review is from: The 51st State [DVD]  (DVD)
It’s really interesting to see so many of the other reviews here mention either “Pulp Fiction” or one of the Guy Richie films, comparing this to these in the main favourably but sometimes not so well. My own feeling is that although there are obvious likenesses between all these films, this one is not of the same style at all really, being a more straightforward comedy action thriller. If I had to compare it to anything then it would be “Beverley Hills Cop”
Elmo McElroy (Samuel L Jackson) is a master chemist; we first meet him back in the 70s unfortunately being busted to possession of dope which seems to be the signal to the end of his blossoming career as a chemist. When we catch up with him in modern day, he’s working for an underground drug lord called The Lizard (Meat Loaf), on account of his disfigured skin. Mind you Elmo’s working relationship with The Lizard hasn’t much more to live as in an audacious double cross Elmo leaves town with his latest drug invention destined for England and a sale with a rival drug baron.
Awaiting Elmo at Liverpool airport is hired gun Felix DeSouza, (Robert Carlyle) a smart talking streetwise know-all who should deliver Elmo to the drug baron, the fantastically named Leopold Durant (Ricky Tomlinson) in exchange for two match day tickets for Liverpool versus Manchester Untied. What none of the characters know at this point though is that The Lizard has released his own hired gun, a beautiful assassin named Dakota Phillips (Emily Mortimer) who has tracked Elmo to Liverpool and sets about shooting up his meeting with Durant.
Elmo and Felix manage to escape with their lives but little else as they must now find a new buyer for the drugs. Perhaps outlandish night club owner Iki (Rhys Ifans) can come to their aid, or will the little band of nasty skinheads set about them before hand?
The reason I think this is more Beverley Hills than Snatch is that there is a definite play towards generating mainstream humour, whether that is the slapstick of the meeting with Durant or dumb ramblings of the police. This is a genuine laugh out loud film and not one where the humour is disguised. The filming style also is straightforward with no attempts at clever camera tricks although there are some nice shots generated. Likewise the plot is generally uncomplicated with no twist and turns of time and you never feel the story needs explaining.
I’m not surprised this film did a whole lot better this side of the Atlantic than it did back in the USA. With the majority of the action based in England, Jackson and Meat Load being the only Americans and a whole plethora of wonderful British character actors that are a complete joy it’s small wonder it was lapped up by British audiences.