COMIC NIHILISM: 'Lock, Stock & Barrels,' 'Go,' 'Matrix'
Alleva, Richard, Commonweal
Charles Dickens is alive and well and working as a casting director in the East End of London. Well, not really, but it was interesting while watching Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels-a huge hit in England and doing pretty well here-to find that a Dickensian grotesquery in the look and sound of its villains could spice a modern gangster story. But, of course, spice is most needed when the meat of a story is not of the first freshness.
Because, as far as plot goes, you might as well be watching a Frank Sinatra Rat Pack movie, such as Robin and the Seven Hoods. Four young lowlifes in the East End, desperate to pay off a gambling debt, snatch a pile of loot from dope dealers who are backed by Caribbean gangsters. This sets off a chain reaction of double dealings which pits all the gangs in the neighborhood against one another. This is really a black comedy about a feeding frenzy: The gangsters are sharks maddened by the scent of blood, and we get to watch them feast in a very small tank. Pauline Kael wrote of the villains of The Maltese Falcon that they were "so ruthless and greedy that they become comic." That's true here, too, and the comedy is abetted by writer-director Guy Ritchie's dialogue, which has a cockney pungency and wit …
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Publication information: Article title: COMIC NIHILISM: 'Lock, Stock & Barrels,' 'Go,' 'Matrix'. Contributors: Alleva, Richard - Author. Magazine title: Commonweal. Volume: 76. Issue: 10 Publication date: May 21, 1999. Page number: 16. © 1999 Commonweal Foundation. COPYRIGHT 1999 Gale Group.
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