The 51st State
One mean mother. Elmo (Jackson) ends up with a lowlife hood (Carlyle) on his back...
US title: Formula 51

dir Ronny Yu
scr Stel Pavlou
with Samuel L Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Rhys Ifans, Meat Loaf, Sean Pertwee, Ricky Tomlinson, Michael Stark, Paul Barber, Steven Walters, Anna Keaveney
release UK 7.Dec.01; US 18.Oct.02
Momentum 01/UK 1h32
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

nice wheels dirty deals With an extremely high level of energy, this action crime comedy keeps us laughing on the edge of our seats. Elmo McElroy (Jackson) is a master chemist who has just invented the most perfect drug ever--51 times stronger than cocaine, hash and ecstasy. He sabotages a sale of the formula to his L.A. boss (Meat Loaf) and heads for Liverpool, where the British gang world is making a better offer. But things go horribly wrong from the beginning, and he ends up in the company of a lowlife hood (Carlyle) on the run from a vicious cop (Pertwee) and a very efficient hitwoman (Mortimer).

Hong Kong-born director Yu brings a clear sense of nonstop action to the film, intelligently and inventively using details and complexities to keep us interested as the film powers past us. And Pavlou's script is laced with clever dialog and situations that slowly bring the preposterous story into focus and then keep things moving until the big finale ... and into a silly credit sequence that begins to explain why Jackson wears a kilt through the entire film (besides all the obvious opportunities for gags)! The performers keep up this energy as well, surging through the story and laying waste to everything and everyone in their path. And perhaps the main complaint is that the film is relentlessly loud and gruesome, with just a bit too much Tarantino-style "accidental" carnage. But at least it gets the darkly funny tone right.
adult themes and situations, violence, language cert 15 6.Nov.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
one mean mother in a skirt send your review to Shadows... Tom, UK: 4.5 out of 5 stars "When I watched this film I knew nothing about it. After a few minutes however I was gripped. Being a Man United fan I was hoping Carlyle would get his arse kicked but I relented as he soon had me in stitches. The chemist in the boot and the shootout at the hotel had me howling with laughter; Denzil from Fools and Horses shooting blindly from under the table was a good bit of thinking by the film maker. I have never seen shooting blindly from under a table before, but it seemed that would be how things happen instead of one man taking aim with a pistol and putting a bullet between the eyes of the baddie. After the mayhem I just watched the rest of the movie with a permanent smirk. Only thing that bugged me was the Carlyle shirt! He never changed it, but there again he was playing a Scouser." (11.Oct.03)
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall