The 51st State

The 51st State

****

Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Elmo McElroy (Samuel L Jackson) has invented a powerful new wonder-drug. Seeking a new life, and $20 million, he blows up the LA gang he works for and heads for Liverpool. When everyone else at the drug deal is killed, courtesy of hitwoman Dakota (Emily Mortimer), Elmo is thrown together with football fan Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) to get the deal done.

The 51st State slots neatly into the spate of modern British gangster films. Drugs, guns, explosions, gangs of varying stupidity all after the same thing, car chases, slamming nightclubs, football, witty dialogue, amusing violence. In a shocking break from tradition, it even has one of those things that is like a man, but has breasts... umm... oh yes, a woman. So that we don't think we're watching Lock Stock, Sexy Beast, generic gangster film no. 826, or Snatch, the filmmakers have kindly given us the unforgettable image of Samuel L Jackson in a kilt.

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Unoriginal and formulaic it may be, but the movie is great fun. The action sequences are top notch, successfully combining believability, excitement and humour. Director Ronny Yu's Hong Kong influence keeps the pace screaming along, although never at the expense of plot, or character development. Superb acting is both expected and delivered from Jackson, Carlyle and, indeed, most of the cast. Meatloaf is a weak link, but when you see what happens to him in an executive box at Liverpool Football Club, you'll be glad he was included.

There are too many similarities with other films for The 51st State to be regarded as a great piece of work. That said, if you're looking for a thoroughly enjoyable action flick, to excite and amuse you, look no further.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2002
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The 51st State packshot
Sam Jackson in a kilt comes to Liverpool to sell his formula for the new club scene wonder drug.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Ronny Yu

Writer: Stel Pavlou

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Nigel Whitmey, Robert Jezek, Emily Mortimer, Meat Loaf, Jake Abraham, Mac McDonald, Aaron Swartz, David Webber, Michael J. Reynolds, Sonny Muslim

Year: 2001

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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