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Movie Reviews

The 51st State  
Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Meatloaf, Rhys Ifans, Ricky Tomlinson, Sean Pertwee
Written by Stel Pavlou
Directed by Ronnu Yu

Rating: 18

Trailer: Quicktime Low Res | High Res

Around three years ago, The 51st State's writer was working in an English off-licence (liquor store), bored by his everyday routine. There, he began work on a screenplay that featured a black, kilt wearing American chemist who travelled across the Atlantic to sell a new wonder-drug that would take it's users to 'The 51st State'. It's your familiar Quentin Tarantino esque rags to riches story, but this isn't the only connection with the Pulp Fiction genius. This screenplay is litterered with great dialogue, laugh out loud funny set pieces and a superb twist at the very end. And, the final similarity, well it just happens that Samuel L. Jackson picked up the screenplay and here stars as that cool, black, American kit wearing dude, in his first bad motherfu**er role since Jackie Brown.

Jackson also executive produced the film and hired Hong Kong director Ronny Yu (Bride Of Chucky) to direct. Here, Yu is the perfect chioce as he's combines action and comedy in a suberb unique style that British films haven't really seen before. The direction sort of reminded me of those countless Hong Kong action/ comedies, of which Yu has around 15 to his name. Here, he takes us on a high-octane, no holds barred rollercoaster of a journey that doesn't relent, giving us one of an action movie that we just don't see too often over here.

The film is set in the city of Liverpool, famous for it's football club (which plays an important role) and as the birth place of The Beatles.

Sam Jackson plays the lead as Elmo McElroy, the chemist from LA who comes over to England to sell a new drug known as POV 51. Jackson is perfect as MElroy who oozes with cool even as the fish out of water, and yes he has dozens of witty one liners that do remind you of his previous characters Jules Winfield and Ordell Robbie. But here he shows a different side to his acting qualities as he tries to understand the English ways of doing things.

Also giving another fantastic perormance in the fil is the every reliable Robert Carlyle as Liverpool fan Felix DeSouza. In the films opening scenes, his character reminds you of his classic performance as Bebgie in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, but his character mellows as the film progresses. It is indeed Carlyle that is the funny sidekick to Jackson's straight man in the movie.

There are also great supporting performances, from Emily Mortimer in an unlikely role as a hitwoman and former girlfriend of Felix, Ricky Tomlinson as Scouse druglord Durant, Sean Pertwee as the bent copper after a cut of Jackson's earnings from the sale of his new drug and Rhys Ifans as loaded club owner Iki. The only let-down is Meatloaf who fails in his bid to play the pissed off drugs baron/ former employer of Jackson. He's just totally unbelievable in role.

The only other thing that I would say about the film is how the film will translate overseas. It's full of very British humour and culture references, that I can't see going down too well in the States. I could be wrong, but our American friends have a while to wait, as The 51st State isn't released until August.

To summarise, The 51st State is an enjoyable movie. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't expect The Long Good Friday, because it isn't. If you want a great night out, this shouldn't dissapoint as the film is laugh out loud hilarious in more than few place. Also look out for a few familiar faces from Lock, Stock and Snatch.

Worth the ticket price just to hear Samuel L. Jackson say bollocks and shagging in his best English accent. "Dogs bollocks is good and just bollocks is bad, right?"

RATING: 3 1/2 out of 5

Reviewed by Paul
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