I watched "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" thanks to Hulu, in the hopes that I could build up the dislike I so strongly feel for Guy Ritchie and his films. I was appeased. I have so many problems with this film. I will list them for you.
1. Comedic Timing. "Lock, Stock" does not have comedic timing. It has the opposite of comedic timing, which I suppose would be un-comedic timing, or possibly comedic anti-timing. Every moment in the film that was supposed to come off as witty came off awkward. Every visual gag was a beat too early or a beat too late, leaving me with a jarred, un-amused feeling. The dialogue is not witty. It is strained. It is forced. Characters saying a line in unison should not pass for wit. But that leads me to another problem, which was
2. Direction and/or Acting. Either Ritchie does not understand how to direct an actor to make them somewhat believable in the realm he has created for them, or the actors cast are not human beings. It's... almost disturbing, the way the actors move, sit, and speak.
3. Editing. There are at least five sequences I can point out in this film in which a scene feels hurriedly inserted, in the hopes of drawing out the story, or connecting stories/other scenes. The scenes do not need to be there. They can easily be cut. One scene which pops to mind is the old card playing woman explaining the rules, and then scraping the rules intercut between the main story. Another is... the main guy? The guy in debt. Yeah, him. Him sitting there, sad, all alone, coming up with how to get out of debt. That was cut between another sequence. It shouldn't have. It feels hacky. It is confusing. It is not justifiable as the editors artistic choice, it is justified as the editors lack of interest, or concentration on the film at hand's story. All in all the editing feels like it was thrown together, knowing that it was incomplete and would need revision, but then it became to late to make the necessary changes and was shipped off to the masses as was. And that made for quite the unenjoyable viewing.
4. The Narration. Oh god, the narration. I found this distracting, and useless on top of that. The narration was used, in my opinion, to cover up holes that needed no covering, and to explain to you what you could already plainly see on the film. It also gave unnecessary backstory to characters that could have remained quite fine characters without letting us have a little peek into their private lives. In a film class I'm taking we have to write out cards called CLOSATs, which is giving a paragraph of detail into a Character, Location, Object, Setting, Action and Theme of a film. It feels like Guy Ritchie had to write out a CLOSAT for a number of Characters, and then laid them all out in the film. Poor storytelling. Lazy storytelling. The actions, and words of the characters should speak for them, not a non-diegetic voice. And quite an annoying voice at that.
5. Cinematography-to-Other Content Ratio. The cinematography is stunning. Very, very impressive. And that's it. That is the only thing this film has going for it. It is a nicely wrapped package of gray socks. Socks that have holes in them. Socks I don't want. They could have been very impressive socks. I could have wanted to wear these socks. But I don't. The gloss and sheen is all well and good, but without a solid heart beating beneath it these are just aesthetically pleasing snippets of feces. Very pretty garbage.
"Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" has no soul. It does not have enough redeeming qualities for me to understand how ANYONE can like it. I've been told that it is an entertaining film, and does not strive to be something more than pure entertainment, quick entertainment, cheap entertainment. I disagree. I feel this film fails to fall into the category of fun, fast entertainment. It did not entertainment. "Lock, Stock" bothered me. One final analogy I can think of is that "Lock, Stock" is like a pretty girl who turns out to be completely and utterly devoid of intelligence, and a sense of humor. This film is Jessica Simpson.
I tried not to be too vulgar and to lay out my thoughts in a civilized, film critic approach. I watched "Snatch" some months ago, and hated it. I watched the trailer for "Rocknrolla", and thought to myself "this reminds me of that movie 'Snatch'. I hated that movie". And low and behold, the next credit card is for writer/director Guy Ritchie. I was amazed I could retain my hate without even knowing it was the same man responsible for both. And tried giving him a chance despite how much I despised "Snatch", and the image of his other films. I watched "Lock, Stock" in full. I hated it. It is of my very long and hard thought out opinion that Guy Ritchie should maybe direct only commercials? Or maybe music videos. He is not competent enough to be responsible for features. He does not have the artistic integrity, the auteurist nature I demand from most films, or the fun sensibilities that could have saved these vapid films.
Eric T. Voigt