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November 2002                                          SITE MAP   SEARCH
The 51st State
cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Sean Pertwee, and Meatloaf

director: Ronny Yu

92 minutes (18) 2001
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
Elmo McElroy (Samuel Jackson) is a genius chemist thrown out of the profession for smoking dope, and now working for drug dealer the Lizard (Meatloaf, doing his best to be suitably reptilian). When McElroy double-crosses his boss and flies to England, where he hopes to sell the secret formula for his new designer drug, engagingly comic misadventure and high-calibre gangster behaviour follows his every move.
   In Liverpool, local criminal Felix De Sousa (Robert Carlyle) and crooked club-owner Iki (Rhys Ifans, at his most manically over-the-top even when sedated) are eager to help McElroy fulfil his ambition to buy a Scottish castle, for a substantial monetary reward (of course), but the Lizard has dispatched his hired gunwoman, Dakota, alias Dawn Philips (Emily Mortimer) - who just happens to be Felix's ex-girlfriend - to bring McElroy back to the USA, and bullish British cop Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee) is also on the trail of what he suspects is an important organised crime deal. Can McElroy overcome the language barrier that distinguishes Yanks from Brits? Will Felix and Dawn get back together? Does the drug, POS-51, really offer its users "a personal visit from god?"
   Hong Kong émigré Ronny Yu is a reliable orchestrater of movie action, as he proved with earlier fantasy and black comedy horror flicks, The Bride With White Hair, and Child's Play sequel, Bride Of Chucky (1998). Here you will find plenty of thoughtless profanity and mindless violence (including a terrific car chase, and a sniper killing a roomful of bad guys), while the proficient use of special effects and flashy editing combine with the film's excellent yet rather loud soundtrack to dramatise and stylise even the most ordinary of narrative events.
   Although DVD extras are limited, you get a trendy virtual environment for the animated menus. This grants access to a making-of featurette (six minutes) plus four other video shorts offering background info about the movie, brief interviews with the director and main stars, photo gallery in slideshow format, and a trailer.