The release of Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998 marked the release of a cult hit and beloved favourite of British cinema forever and always. Ritchie followed it up with Snatch. two years later, which was very successful, if not more so due to the notable appearance of Brad Pitt as a “pikey” with an unintelligible drawling accent which will undoubtedly induce many laughs and frustrated grins.
They’re both great films, directed with skill by Ritchie as I mentioned, and produced by Matthew Vaughn, who would go on to direct Layer Cake and Kick-Ass, two more of my personal favourite action movies.
Both of Ritchie’s films star action favourite Jason Statham and soccer star Vinnie Jones in prominent roles as violent but creative and comedic characters. When Lock, Stock came out, I did not see it. When Snatch. came out, I saw that for the presence of Pitt, and it at once prompted me to see its predecessor. Both films had me in fits of laughter and extreme satisfaction with the explicit but not gratuitous violence. So without further ado, let’s see if we can decipher which film is better!
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Featuring a range of colourful characters from stoned drug dealers to squeaky-clean chefs to a couple of bumbling buffoons on the trail of two eponymous shotguns. A group of mates (Jason Statham, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran and Jason Flemyng) pool their money for a high stakes card game with sadistic porn king Hatchet Harry which ends terribly with them owing him half a million pounds and with a week to find the dough. This leads them to rob their neighbours, who are planning to rob the aforementioned drug dealers in a hilariously funny scene. There follows a series of strange coincidences and events (with a chuckle-worthy cameo from Rob Brydon as a traffic warden.)
It’s a very funny and engaging film, and the use of multiple characters works well and keeps the audience interested. Fortunately, so does the next film…
Benecio Del Toro is a gambling criminal with four fingers who steals a priceless diamond which continues falling into the wrong hands throughout the strange events of this roaringly funny follow up. As with its predecessor, the soundtrack is excellent, with some great music used very memorably. It was fun to see Ewen Bremner in a small role (I love Trainspotting, and I’ve always loved Spud) hanging out of Vinnie Jones’ car door window in a great scene. The story works well, and the coincidential events (as in Lock, Stock) work almost perfectly.
The real star of this film, however, is the dialogue. Written completely by Guy Ritchie, it is packed with often subtle but always hilarious humour, and has spawned several memorable and oft-quoted lines, notably on an IMDb message board thread entitled ‘Inappropriate Times to Quote Snatch” which I suggest you read after seeing the film. I’ll never forget Brick Top’s extended monologue on getting rid of corpses via pigs, and I doubt any of you will either.
So which is the best? While Snatch. is packed with so many ingredients for greatness, it’s Lock, Stock which wins out because of its pure originality and creativity. The fabulous ending is a classic cinematic moment, the “car-door” scene is unforgettable, and the sprawling tale of the robbery itself is fun and funny to watch.
Ultimately, I suggest you see both films, in chronological order, and decide for yourself which one is better, and leave a comment with your thoughts. I’ll be posting another one like this with two more movies sooner or later. Until then, keep reading, and I’ll leave you with this funny scene from Lock, Stock: