Pulp Fiction meets Snatch, The cool meets the cocky and Big-Ben meets big artillery in Ronny Yu’s “Formula 51”, a high-octane, insanely funny action-packed romp teaming Samuel L. Jackson with Britain’s best.
Obviously enticed by their recent successes in the crime-gangster genre (Lock, Stock, Snatch, etc.), the Yanks place their coolest weapon, Samuel L.Jackson, into the British mix and the result is an entertaining couple of hours of mayhem.
Jackson plays Elmo McElroy, a kilt-wearing, golf-obsessed illegal chemist who arrives in Liverpool to seal a $20 million drugs deal with local mogul Ricky Tomlinson. Unfortunately, his old stateside boss, the Lizard (MeatLoaf), has sent Emily Mortimer’s accomplished assassin after him. Teaming up with Yank-hating small-time hood, Felix De Souza (Robert Carlyle), McElroy must seal the deal before anyone can off him, staying one step ahead of neighbouring skinheads and a crooked cop (Sean Pertwee) along the way.
Here’s one of those films that throws plausibility out the window and adds big bags of bloody violence to the engagement. And it works. The film’s droll, has plenty of act and what makes it a little fresher than some of the other hip gangster flicks out there is that there’s more than one layer to each character. Jackson’s character is only minutely likeable, but he’s also super-cool – so in some respects Pulp Fiction’s Jules, with a kilt of course. The kind of character Jackson does best.
Mortimer (The Kid, Scream 3) is syrupy sweet, but also convincingly poisonous as the gun for hire, and Carlyle is Jackson’s town tour guide, a slapdash but likeable wheeler and dealer – forced to side with the chemical brother if he wants his share of the Benjamin’s.
Writer Stel Pavlou’s dialogue would raise a smile on Tarantino’s mug, Yu’s directing is radically speedy and the template is wholly irresistible.
Sure it’s brainless fun, but “Formula 51” is a trip well worth taking.