2000, Movie, R, 102 mins


Guy Ritchie's follow-up to LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS offers more of what made his debut such larky fun: More eccentric toughs, more rapid-fire dialogue, more escalating mayhem, more underworld slang. This time out, the colorful characters include thick-skulled pawn shop owners, gimlet-eyed twins, crooked fight promoters, gypsies, a lunatic Uzbekhistani gun dealer and a sweet-faced dog that's swallowed a squeak-toy and barks with a high-pitched wheeze. But the film is a bit exhausting, like being trapped inside a pinball machine with a plot. It all begins in Antwerp, where Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) and a pickup gang, disguised as Hasidim, steal a whopper of an 84-carat diamond. En route to delivering the prize to his New York boss, Avi (Dennis Farina), Frankie stops in London with an eye to unloading some smaller gems on Avi's cousin (Mike Reid) and buying a gun from Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia). But compulsive gambler Frankie walks into a setup when Boris suggests he place a bet on an illegal boxing match organized by vicious old-time gangster Brick Top (Alan Ford) and genial small-time promoters Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham). Unfortunately for everyone, pawn-shop owners Vinny (Robbie Gee) and Sol (Lennie James), who are supposed to steal the diamond from Frankie on Boris's behalf, are world-class screw-ups. Turkish and Tommy, meanwhile, are in hot water with Brick Top because their fighter can't make the match, but think they've salvaged the situation when gypsy bare-knuckle champ Mickey (Brad Pitt) agrees to fight in his place. Little do they know their troubles are just beginning. There's never a dull moment, between the narrative contrivances and Ritchie's incessant use of off-kilter camera angles, rapid-fire cutting and jagged little hops back and forth in time. More isn't always better; everything feels slightly forced, and the funny bits — make no mistake, there are several — are all but lost in the noise. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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