FORMULA 51 (2001)


Directed By: Ronny Yu
Written By: Stel Pavlou
Cinematography By: Hang-Sang Poon
Editor: David Wu

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Meatloaf, Rhys Ifans, Ade, Sean Pertwee

Elmo McElroy is a streetwise American master chemist who heads to England to sell his special new formula – a powerful, blue concoction guaranteed to take you to ‘the 51st state.’ McElroy’s new product delivers a feeling 51 times more powerful than any thrill, any pleasure, any high in history. But his plans for a quick, profitable score go comically awry when he gets stuck in Liverpool with an unlikely escort and his ex-girlfriend and becomes entangled in a bizarre web of double-dealing and double-crosses.

Watching this film the most obvious thing about it is that Samuel L. Jackson is having fun in this film. His character wears a kilt and is the coolest character in the film. Full of memorable over the top characters. His character is smart, Cool and can kick ass. Which makes it all the more strange that his character would need a bodyguard. Especially since he dominates the action sequences. The bodyguard is only needed to pad out the story and give him a contact in the underworld. IT also allows the movie to be set up for a eventual buddy comedy in the later half.

Samuel L. Jackson always seems to pick oddball projects that look ridiculous, But once you watch them are kind of guilty pleasures. I don’t know if he does them out of paycheck, Filming locations, People he wants to work with or really loves the character he is playing and faith in script. I am sure it varies on each project. Though soon they all do seem to have the same oddball manner. Which is starting to make him the modern day Christopher Walken. Taking any project that can afford his fee and making the film virtually his as being the most charismatic actor in the whole film.

One of the weaknesses of the films is that the film has two of the co-leads played by actors who usually excel in roles that are more character based. Here they strangely seem bland. I can’t tell if it is the performances that are uninspired or if that is how the script leaves them. Trying to make the other characters so over the top. They use them as more regular joe’s to balance out the film.

This film is so over the top that it seems to throw in everything it can including the kitchen sink. Just to keep the momentum up. Since it is partly a drug tale I guess they wanted to make it feel that energetic and wacky. So hence the film is action packed. The film has so much ridiculousness that a lot of the strangeness passes by and is never explained and no one really seems to comment on it. The action sequences are fun. They feel like a comic book come to life.

I hope that Ronny Yu get’s a chance to make more films like this only a bit better when it comes to script and story quality. I really hope he get’s the chance to bring a graphic novel to the big screen. It appears that is where his talents lie. As the film is fast it is also funky and has plenty of color and a certain richness in it’s visuals.

This is what I like to consider a disposable film. There is no real reason to exist it is simply here to have fun with and be entertained by watching. A time waster but an exciting one at least.


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