Formula 51 (2001) Poster


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Just say no to the red pills
Tweekums7 April 2008
From start to finish this film is a great laugh, it never takes itself seriously. The characters aren't consciously making jokes, what they say is just inherently funny. Be warned though if you don't like swearing in your films this isn't the one for you as just about every line contains more than one obscenity.

The film stars Samuel L Jackson as an ultra-cool, kilt wearing drugs chemist wanting to make one high-profit deal, Robert Carlyle as a Liverpool gangster and Emily Mortimer as the hottest assassin I've seen in a film.

I won't post any spoilers but if you enjoy films with car chases, funny dialogue and over the top action involving guns, golf clubs and heavy duty laxatives then this is the film for you.
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Worth a watch
grezza_200419 March 2007
The 51st State is certainly no classic, but its funny and has a half-decent storyline. Being from the Liverpool area, I'm glad to see a film set there, even if it is about crime. Samuel L. Jackson is as cool as ever as kilt-wearin', drug-dealin' Elmo McElroy, and Robert Carlyle is in good form as Felix DeSouza, desperately trying to get himself a cut in the deal. The use of Ricky Tomlinson, a very funny actor pretty much unknown to American audiences, was also a nice touch. I'm very much a believer that British comedy is (almost) always better than American. I always enjoy the inclusion of English words and slang, and with Elmo not having a clue about English customs, such as the different language and the Mini Cooper, makes this film very funny. I'm not sure about Americans, but English people will appreciate the hilarity of the situation as Elmo and Felix run around Liverpool, with Elmo wanting his 20 million, and Felix just wanting to watch the Liverpool vs. Man Utd game! A clever twist at the end adds a bit of a philosophical side to the film, and shows The 51st State is more than just a few laughs.
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Formula 51 (as it's also known) rocks!
ehawke-19 May 2004
What do you get when you put Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Meatloaf, Rhys Ifans, and Emily Mortimer together in a movie? A rollicking good time! This movie is pure entertainment and has some very, very funny moments. The dialogue is mostly tongue-in-cheek and snappy. The soundtrack is excellent (this coming from someone who doesn't really like techno, club, rap, or hip-hop music), and I would definitely buy this movie to watch again. It may not be for everyone, but the cast is first-rate; the story line believable, and seeing Samuel L. Jackson in a kilt couldn't be beat! I give this movie a 9 out of 10. It's not Academy Award material, but who cares!
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Pulp fiction meets Brookside! Joy!
grahamdavidhughes10 December 2001
OK, so the `what' British film industry needs another gangster-flick about as much as Zsa-Zsa Gabor needs another facelift, but this film is worth a look just for the fact that it's not set in London (hurrah!), it's very funny and it features Samuel L. Jackson in a kilt. Coming from Liverpool myself, I loved the fact that someone has taken the effort to make a decent film about my city (the last film set in Liverpool was ‘Beneath the Skin' – shoe-gazing rubbish with Samantha Morton, who couldn't act her way out of a wet paper bag).

Energetically directed by Yu, with flamboyant performances by Carlyle, Ifans et al. 51st State is difficult not to enjoy. Okay, so it's not very deep and meaningful, and the plot may have been done a thousand times before, but that could just about describe almost every film that Hollywood has churned out this year. With film, as with any other entertainment medium, it ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.

Moaning about the ‘dodgy' accents or the depiction of Liverpool as a haven for drug dealers and corrupt policemen is pointless nit-picking and should not detract from the fact that 51st State is a lively, refreshing and ultimately entertaining two hours worth of celluloid. It is also a damn sight better than all the British-films-not-made-by-Working-Title that have been released this year.
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Brilliant film. Funny, loud and outragous
rubicon100002 February 2002
The thing I like most about the 51st State is that it seems calculated to annoy pretentious idiots with their heads stuck up their own bottoms. It doesn't take itself seriously at all, and is therefore a very good psychological device that can employed to weed out those people that do. I LOVE the fact that it's an American style movie but that it takes place on English shores. Who on earth wrote the rule that if it's British it needs to look crap, have bad acting, have laughable dialogue (Guy Ritchie) and generally be embarrassing to watch? We live in a global age, and The 51st State is very much a global movie appealing to people in whatever country they happen to be. Hence British writer. American Star. Hong Kong Director.

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Fun if you are in the mood and know what to expect - Jackson is key in making it stand out from the many other modern British gangster films
bob the moo2 May 2004
Elmo McElroy is an American chemistry who has developed a new drug that is 51 times stronger, more effective and better than everything else on the market. He kills the major drug dealers in LA and heads to England to get a better deal. He arrives in England and is collected by Felix DeSouza and escorted to meet criminal Leopold Durant. However Elmo's hit on The Lizard failed and he remains keen to get hold of the drug - however the formula only exists in Elmo's head. The Lizard charges hit-woman Dakota (coincidently Felix's ex) to keep Elmo alive until The Lizard can get to him and get the formula. Meanwhile Elmo and Felix combine to try and sell the drugs.

Yet another in the treadmill of British bandwagon filmmaking, this film is, surprise surprise, a comedy British gangster movie with, wait for it, larger than life characters, funny violence and hyper-kinetic directing and editing. How very Lock Stock - things look pretty bleak from this description, except that the cast at least offers the hope that sufficient money has been poured into it to make it more than just another cheap cash-in on the success of Guy Ritchie's films. From the start it is obvious that this film is going to be more about energy than anything else and, to prove this, it then quickly edits it's way into a plot that relies more on forward motion and coincidence than anything else. The story is nonsense throughout and at times I found it a little irritating that so little attention was paid to the plot - but in fairness, to make a big deal out of that is to miss the point.

This is because the film is all about style, humour and pace and not about character or plotting. In this regard it is an enjoyable ride, albeit a silly and energetic one. The hyper directing from Yu really suits this and he does well even if he is not really very original in regards his shots etc. The editing fits with the formula set by Ritchie and is pretty much what you expect. What makes the film stand out from the rest of the copies is that it actually is quite good fun to watch (as opposed to some copies that are just cheap and nasty) - never hilarious but it is energetic enough to pull you along with it no matter how silly it gets. Of course it has weak points - a few characters are too daft and, whenever the overall plot is the main focus then it struggles.

Despite this the cast do well to keep things moving and they play a massive part in making this work. Jackson may not be doing anything new or wonderful here but he is key to the film working and he is worth every penny they must have paid him. He has great presence and he brings a lot of fun and energy to the film in a way that his lesser co-stars cannot. Carlyle is a good actor but he pales in comparison to Jackson in this - he isn't helped by the awful accent he is lumbered with and the fact that he is a little irritating. Mortimer is annoying as her character is just daft in the context of the plot, but not as annoying as Meatloaf who is easily the worst thing in the film. The support cast includes reasonable turns from Pertwee, Ifans, Tomlinson and Barber but this is Jackson's film 100% and it is difficult to imagine it being as enjoyable without him.

Overall, we all know what to expect - this is yet another gangster film in the mould of Lock Stock. In that regard it isn't original and it is, frankly, a mess in regards character and plotting. However it moves fast, is slick, clearly had a bit of cash thrown at it and, apart from a handful of stupidly silly moments, is actually quite fun to watch - even if it is almost instantly forgettable. The cast includes quite a few well-known faces but it is the awesome presence of Jackson (who looks like he is enjoying himself in an undemanding role) that makes this worth seeing.
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Action comedy starred by a very good cast that generates enough eccentric energy and amusement
ma-cortes30 August 2014
An American whiz master chemist Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson , also co-executive producer and he brought in HK's Ronny Yu to direct) plans to score big on a once in a lifetime drug deal . As he develops the ultimate and revolutionary pharmaceutical narcotic , then double-crosses his L.A. boss connection nicknamed Lizard (Meat Loaf) to sell it to a Scouse kingpin (Tomlinson) and later on , Lizard seeks vengeance . All does not go as planned and he is soon entangled in a web of deceit . The Californian pharmaceutist flees to Liverpool to make a more lucrative business there , dealing with a local mafioso called Felix (Robert Carlyle) and his hoodlum (Paul Barber ; this is the second film and 'Robert Carlyle' and 'Paul Barber' have done together , the first was Full Monty ,1997). Meanwhile , a gun-toting motorcycle-riding hit woman pursues to kill him and she happens to be Felix's ex .

This exciting as well as wild picture is loaded with noisy action , irony , slapdash , comedy with tongue-in-cheek , bad taste jokes , rapid flash thrilling choreography , funny situations and with a distinctly British sense of humor . "The 51 State", is a savage hybrid among the best " Quentin Tarantino", ¨Brothers Cohen : Joel and Ethan¨ and ¨Guy Ritchie¨ , topped with a little bit of original touches here and there ; including a due homage to Liverpool FC . It turns out to be pleasantly fun that offers no intellectual stimulus whatsoever ; an exercise in pure action cinema in which entertainment and bemusement are guaranteed . The scrip written by Stel Pavlou not reinvents nothing, it is a blending of previous films , writing an enjoyable Popurrí , though it is where lies his greatness . Writer Stel Pavlou was working as an assistant in a liquor store when he penned his screenplay ; it was sent on spec to Tim Roth as Pavlou knew that Roth insisted on reading all independent scripts sent his way.

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Ronny Yu , though Tim Roth originally planned for this to be his directorial debut and Uli Edel was originally set to direct . Yu began to direct The Servant , the film became the No.1 box office hit for the summer, and Yu's future seemed destined to be in film after all. Throughout the 1980s Yu directed and produced many other box office hits in Hong Kong . In 1986 , he directed Brandon Lee , Bruce Lee's son , in Legacy of Rage . In 1993, the successful as well as romantic swordplay epic The bride with the white hair (1993) . Bride was a huge summer hit in Hong Kong, and also became an art house theater favorite in the U.S. and Europe . In 1995 came the equally ravishing The Phantom Lover(1995), a love story inspired by the original novel of The Phantom of the Opera . Following these nice films, Yu launched his Hollywood career . As he went on to direct Warriors of virtue and The 51st State or Formula 51 . His best picture and the most acclaimed results to be Fearless with Jet Li . His flair for visually rich narration appealed immediately to broader Western audiences and has been associated mostly with the terror film genre, as he has revived three franchises with The bride of Chucky (1998), adding some hilarious touches ; then Freddy versus Jason (2003), of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, respectively, where its box office total is more than the two franchises'combined earnings .
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Best Quentin Ritchie Spin-off ever
callaway7628 July 2003
It's easy for any of us to resemble the 'comic book guy' from the Simpson's and rant for days about this belated release mimicking the action/comedies of the last decade. Don't. This is not 'Get Shorty' nor 'Who is Cletis Tout?'.

Plot: A unfortunate jinx leads a chemist to an underground drug world. With clever calculations at foot and in mind, he devises an intricate plan for early retirement. Then Liverpool happens.

Granted, the first time I watched it seemed like a product from a 'Quentin Tarantino' screen writing class. Upon watching a few more times it becomes clearer that there is no other fault. Had this movie arrived before such 'Res Dogs' type movies it may have been the golden boy of this new genre (not-likely). But it still stands as a light-weight contender. The situations are cleverly drawn, the acting is very comical and the casting is on the money. The fast drawn shots keep the pace, the thunderous soundtrack imports the ambiance, and the British ghetto lingo always reels you in to the lovely slums of Liverpool.

Bottom Line: Better Title 'An American Drug Dealer in Liverpool'
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No Reason
Theo Robertson28 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
There`s a very interesting history with this movie . Writer Stel Pavlou sent his unsolicited script to Tim Roth who in turn passed it onto Samuel L Jackson who liked it so much he raised the finance for THE 51ST STATE . When you`ve got a writer who comes up with the simple but flawless idea of sending an actor a script who liked it so much he`ll go out of his way to raise the money for the production that gives hope to all aspiring screenwriter

However ...


As much as the story behind the film fills me with joy and hope the film itself isn`t up to much . In fact it`s quite woeful in places and most of it`s down to the script . For example why does Jackson`s character walk around in a kilt ? Why do Manchester United fans travel to Liverpool the day BEFORE the match . Why are a bunch of neo-nazi skinheads after Felix ? That`s because logic and common sense are discarded to set up scenes later on in the movie . To set up a joke about " a black man in a dress " , to set up a superflous scene in a Liverpool bar and to set up a funny joke about " The sh*t is gonna hit the fan " . They`re all throw away scene that don`t push the plot forward , the proper term is " Underdeveloped " a fault of many scripts from inexperienced writers , oh and does anyone care to explain to me why one of the characters likes to wear women`s underware ? No don`t bother " Underdeveloped " script is the reason . I should also point out that Stel`s script is a bit too mid Atlantic for my taste , I mean look at the characters names : Felix Desouza , Dakota Phillips , Virgil Kane , Leopold Durant and Iki . What strange names for a bunch of Scousers . Mind you some scenes did raise a smile like " Okay let him down " and " You said get rid of him " , corny I know but they still raised a smile so credit where it`s due . Just a pity the screenplay wasn`t stronger

Director Ronny Yu shouldn`t escape criticism either . His directing style like the script is a bit too disjointed and mid Atlantic for my taste . In fact in some places it`s like a live action cartoon , but the greatest problem is the cast going completely over the top . Sean Pertwee is usually good at playing violent baddies but only when keeping his discipline . Here he looks like he`s doing a really bad Steven Berkoff impression and would have perhaps have brought the film down if the rest of the cast hadn`t given equally bad Steven Berkoff impressions , though to be fair at least Robert Carlyle does a convincing Liverpool accent

And on the subject of Carlyle one of my cyber friends called Stephanie ( Ironically who I know from The The web sites - Heartland should have been the theme song to this film for obvious reasons ) told me during a night out with her husband she saw some location filming for a film called DEAD FISH take place . An excited Stephanie asked one of the passing crew what the movie was about and he replied it was a comedy thriller starring Gary Oldman and Robert Carlyle . DEAD FISH - A comedy thriller . So let`s see now . PLUNKETT AND MACLEANE - A period comedy thriller starring Robert Carlyle . RAVENOUS - A black comedy starring Robert Carlyle . THE 51ST STATE - A comedy thriller starring Robert Carlyle and coming soon DEAD FISH - A comedy thriller starring Robert Carlyle . If I was Mr Carlyle I`d start concentrating on doing what he does best and that`s playing violent anti- heroes in memorable dramas otherwise Robert Carlyle might find himself becoming Britain`s answer to Eric Roberts
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A Quirky, Fish-Out-Of-Water Flick
brando64729 October 2006
I am not really sure what the appeal of this movie actually is. It's definitely not the action, since fights are simple and few and far between. I wouldn't think its the comedy, since the premise of pretty much every joke is the same. It seems the majority of the humor in this movie is Samuel L. Jackson's character dealing with the differences between England and America and Robert Carlyle's character's disgust with Americans. Of course, every-so-often, we get a dash of toilet humor to mix things up. Pretty simple. Nothing special.

And yet, somehow, this movie manages to stay entertaining enough throughout the bulk of it. My only guess is that it comes from the charisma of the cast and characters. Samuel L. Jackson defies logic by kicking ass in just about every movie he's in, whether the flick's good or not. Robert Carlyle's energy and enthusiasm is enough to prevent me from getting annoyed with his constant whining. Emily Mortimer plays the soft-spoken, sexy assassin hired to bring in Jackson's character. And Meat Loaf....well....Meat Loaf bothered the hell out of me. His role as the Lizard, the big-time American drug dealer and previous employer to Jackson, is over-the-top and completely unconvincing as someone who would have rose to power in the American drug market. At times, he is just downright aggravating to watch (especially when he starts ranting and referring to himself in the third-person).

Fortunately, Meat Loaf (and a nearly as annoying Rhys Ifans)are not enough to completely drag the film down. It manages to stay quirky enough to keep entertaining and you shouldn't feel as if you completely wasted the last 92 minutes of your life. My advice? Check it out once, it's a hit or miss.
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Awful awful awful awful awful awful
dildq10 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is probably the most idiotic film I have ever seen. EVER. And I promise you, I have seen some stupid films in my time. If you can believe anyone would pay 20 million dollars just for the formula of a drug noone has even tried, I truly envy your lack of grasp on reality. And there is more...

***Spoilers ahead***

A drug FIFTYONE times more hallucinogenic than acid, caused by the power of suggestion... Oh yeah, this is the incredibly lame premise of the movie. The drug in question in the film, POS-51, is a placebo, it has no real effect, yet people imagine the drug to work cause the massively overrated actor Samuel L. Jackson tells them to. You think you wouldn't notice if you took something 51 times stronger than coke and E and LSD combined? A couple of hundred of clubbers pop the drug, and miraculously are convinced by the magic power of suggestion.

Truly, if you have an IQ higher than that of a houseplant, AVOID THIS MOVIE, I promise you will be disappointed.

I can't believe this film got relatively good ratings here. It makes me depressed that anyone could accept the concept of this movie. I think I have to drink some imaginary beers now, 51 times more intoxicating than vodka.

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"Boys from the blackstuff turn to drugs"!
dgrahamwatson9 May 2006
Well, well, well, it really doesn't get any worse than this! If this is anything to go by the English certainly can't make movies any more that's for sure. The only saving grace is that Robert Carlyle does what he's good at doing, playing an up tight anti hero with a certain amount of humor and in all fairness he jells well with Samuel L Jackson who also effectively portrays what he is supposed to do. Yet despite a few other big name starts to boot they can't save this turkey; the film stinks big time!!

It really goes down hill fast when the location moves to the UK, but it should have been fair warning when we were introduced to a scrawny woman with a Liverpool accent that is a "hit-woman", how ludicrous is that. However, as the movie progresses I don't know if it was the holdovers from the now defunct UK soap "Brookside", dopey police, DeSouza pulling out a pistol in a crowded Airport after 9/11, Rhys Ifans cartoon character performance, I could go on but why bother. I haven't been to Liverpool for over 20 years but I'm sure it's moved on from the recession ravaged city of all those years ago, however, if you were to view this you wouldn't think so. Too many scouse stereo types of a negative value, I was waiting for an appearance from 'Yosser Hughes' (giz a job) or a cameo from Alan Bleasdale. Has Liverpool got more to offer than and scrap metal merchants, drug gangs, organized crime or foul mouthed Liverpudian house wives; were the makers of this film trying to take the mickey out of Liverpool? If so, there 20 years too late and don't deserve it anymore!

The English are very cynical towards Americans "bloody yanks" mentality, they never waste an opportunity to mock or laugh at the USA. Yet despite that, deep down they are sensitive to what the USA thinks of them. The English always like it when a home grown movie of sorts does well in the USA "did we impress the yanks", it always makes big news in the UK. Although I realize that the quaint old Ealing movies or the stiff upper lip image has passed it's time, but the image of what is on offer now should embarrass them. Of course there was meant to be a certain amount of humor in this movie but it fell flat, it was simply awful!

The English think that their humor is better than US humor, or that they have a better sense of humor than Americans. On this performance you have got to be joking! The days of Faulty towers, Yes minister and Black adder have passed too. So what do they offer now — drunken moronic football fans, thugs, cholesterol laded dinners, fry ups, fish n chips wrapped in newspapers, drugs, how inarticulate the Brits are, profanity, gun running and an overall crass and idiotic persona! It's simply not funny, just embarrassing, is this the image they like to portray today? Unfortunately I think it is! To the old LWT sitcoms and the old 'Carry On' films, please come back all is forgiven!
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A smart action-comedy plus Sam Jackson in a kilt
Lillizzie2 December 2001
Very few action movies actually succeed in being funny, but the witty screenplay of the 51st State will have you laughing throughout the entire film. Sam Jackson proves himself as the coolest man on the planet as he struts across the screen wearing a kilt and acting like a samurai warrior with a golf club instead of a sword. Rhys Ifans, as the over the top Iki, never fails to entertain with his hysterical antics. Robert Carlyle, Ricky Tomlinson, Emily Mortimer, and even Meatloaf form the rest of the cast which never fails to disappoint. The 51st State will take you on a ride through the drug and club world of Liverpool and it is worth the trip!
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Comparison's are what kill this film
devilnside29 July 2005
Formula 51, to me, wanted to badly to mimic the cool characteristics of films like Snatch and in doing so left behind elements which were necessary to get there. The script found the film with it's first fault when it was clear that during the writing process things like a flowing, rich and intelligent script were replaced by excessive overly 'Cool' dialogue, the f word and a narrative which shamelessly places the characters in situations with the sole purpose of them showing how witty (in a dialogue sense) they can be. And yes, I will admit, at times it works and you do enjoy some of this but it is overall tedious and relies far to heavy on this to make this film.

On the acting front I noticed pretty quickly how the actors saw their characters were written and just played with it (with the exception of Sam L Jackson who seemed to kick into auto pilot and let his cool persona shine through on his part). I think in the context this was a good choice by the actors, this movie was not a masterpiece and they treated it appropriately. But still, the characters lacked charisma and charm. Even the always likable Samual L Jackson failed to really strike a chord with me.

I guess I semi enjoyed the film but still felt as though it was trying to be something more and failed. I keep thinking it wanted to be Snatch, but to be, it needed the characters, the pace, the dialogue (subtlety needed) and the overall richness that Snatch possessed. Try to not make comparisons upon viewing, and take it as no more than a piece of entertainment. 5/10
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This absurd film might get Cult Possibilties, unless you love seeing Samuel L. Jackson in a Kilt !
hu6758 September 2005
Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise American master chemist comes to England to introduce a new drug to the European rave scene. When he finds himself double crossed in the mob's underworld. The only support that MeElroy finds is a rabid local hood Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle), who hates all things American.

Directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy Vs. Jason) made an enjoyable, trashy, indefensible guilty pleasure. Although there is nothing special about this film unless you love seeing Jackson in a Kilt. The film almost has a scene stealing performance by Emily Mortimer as a Hit-Woman. The movie has an good supporting cast like Sean Pertwee, Rhys Ifans and Meat Loaf. This film was a Box Office Flop but it worth a look for fans of the stars or you are in the mood for wild, tongue in cheek, Hong Kong style action/comedy. Samuel L. Jackson is also one of the executive producers. Original British Title:The 51St State. Super 35. (***/*****).
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utterly dreadful
petesnow17 December 2001
Poor script, poor direction even poor acting despite some usually reliable cast members. Please do not go and see this movie and try to encourage British film makers to use their meagre film resources in a more intelligent and inventive manner.

Young British film makers must realise that we cannot make American-style movies. All of our major popular successes worldwide over the past few years have all been, in one way or another, quintessentially British - this is not coincidence.
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Too much use of the f word?
chakazulu13 January 2003
I'd lay even money that nobody posting that criticism of this film has ever been to Liverpool, where saying 'fook' is almost as prevalent as leaving cars up on four bricks. This isn't the best film ever. It's not even the best example of British humour on film. It is, however, an entertaining film that anybody with roots north of the Watford Gap is likely to find hysterically funny in places. And that's the rub: this film has moments of brilliance (and I still think the closing caption about Jackson's skirt (as the average Scouser would indeed call it) is one of them). The rest of it is just good harmless fun. For the British, anyway...
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Brilliant (still a Brit-flick)
exciter-26 June 2004
An absolutely brilliant flick! Le must - for many decent DVD collection. Fast paced. Not a single second of it is boring. Not even out of rhythm.

Keeps you glued to the seat. Not tiring when you watch it over and over again. Besides this movie has a very rare quality. You can successfully quote many lines from the film - in different conversations. Extremely useful bonus.

I truly wish I could watch a movie like that every day. It inspires. Sorry about the last couple of sentences being a bit contrived. I was unaware of a 10 line rule! A++++++++++
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Absolute junk!
quazza26 January 2002
I am not one for slating films. i can usually find something positive in any movie but it is a difficult task with 51st state. Having been advertised as a British gangster/comedy flick with attitude - it fails on all accounts. Funny jokes are thin on the ground. I think the producers thought that Samuel L parading around in a kilt and Bobby Carlyle in a Liverpool shirt would satisfy all comic tastes. Unfortunately for them no one was impressed. What upsets me is how un-British the film is. Britain has always succeeded, in the past, with gangster flicks by wearing their britishness firmly on their sleeve- 'Get Carter', 'The Long Goodbye', even, 'Lock, stock' firmly established a uniquely British quality. 51st State however wants to be American. From the title, to the main star, to the Hollywood-sheen of the cinematography- the film even starts off in the USA. It is easy to understand why Jackson picked up this script for himeself because it is one long exercise in making his character look like the coolest MF this side of Jules. However, it is disappointing to see Robert Carlyle wasted with such poor material. The rest of the cast, disregarding Ricky Tomlinson(on past glories alone), are dismal. It is very un-pc to say it but women just don't belong in gangster films. Especially Emily Mortimer. She provides a gloriously disastrous turn as a the ludicrous sharpshooter. Sean Pertwee does his usual, repelling the viewer with ease + Ifans is ....... well, what can you say about an actor who thinks comedy is parading about in a bra, horrible. The irony about 51st state is despite the lengths which the film-makers went to americanize the film, the plot involving carlyle's attempt to get tickets to see his beloved Liverpool and the dialects of the actors will mostly alienate moviegoers in the US. My saving grace is for Ronny Yu. His direction is fast-paced and makes the script seem much more exciting than it really is. With better material he could easily have provided a more enjoyable cinematic experience.
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Sincerely Unimpressed
BundyVW15 January 2002
This is one of those films that is so chronically bad it's lmpossible to communicate just how bad it really is. But i'll try. Samuel Jackson plays a chemist who comes to Liverpool to attempt to sell the formula for a new designer drug he's concocted. A good premise? Well it might have had potential, but it goes nowhere due to an embarrassingly unfunny script and leaden direction. The performances don't help much either; although Jackson tries to inject some life into the proceedings, Robert Carlyle is a disaster as his psychotic sidekick, and Emily Mortimer(playing a sexy hitwomen!) is bizarrely miscast.

It's yet another example of a movie which tries to be a comedy-thriller when it should have been a thriller with comic overtones. Consequently, all attempts at humour fail miserably due to the witless and immature dialogue, and the action scenes fail to arouse much interest either. If all that doesn't put you off, good luck.
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Dreadful 'B' movie written by local lad working in an offy
paynterr04 January 2002
I was particularly interested in seeing this film, since it was written by someone who a friend of mine knows; written whilst he was working in an off-licence in my old home town. I have been following its progress for some 5 years now, since I heard that he'd sent the script off to Tim Roth and that Tim Roth had rung him back late one night, much to his surprise. The script was then passed on to Samual L Jackson who produced and starred in it. So I went to see it last night... The film was quite frankly appalling. Maybe the script was better that the film made out, maybe not; it was hard to tell in amongst the awful "oh here we go again, doesn't work outside Asia" Hong-Kong slow-motion(tm) film direction. The acting talent available should have made this a much better film, if you exclude the female hitman, which I guess points to the fact that the film making and the script were more than likely to blame. Gratuitous bad language is funny in the hands of intelligence. Think Derek and Clive when Peter Cook uses more swear-words per minute on one comedy record than anyone else before or since. Yet they are funny, since they are used in an intelligent, clever, witty fashion. The use of bad language here was just simply there because the writer thought that using the 'Fredrick' and 'Celery' words alone was somehow 'funny'. It's not. You become insensed to it and then annoyed. I actually walked out 10 minutes from the end as the film descended into a downward spiral of crapness as Samual's character gave away his new found drugs to 'the kids'. The film was a pseudo-Tarantino pastiche of every other gangster film you can name. Almost in the same way that the Scream franchise drew on Craven's earlier horror schlock flicks, only not as intelligently done. Unlike Taratino, who at least provided clever and amusing dialog for his first couple of films (including the much underrated From Dusk Til Dawn), this script fails single-handedly to deliver any sort of originality, even going to the extent of using a Tarantino mandatory in the form of Jackson, to give the film some kudos. I cannot recommend this film and have not walked out of a movie for years... which is a shame, since I'd have liked it to have been good, since the humble beginnings of this film are somewhat fairytale. I fear that Stel P's career will dry up very quickly if this is all he has to offer.

A 'B' movie in wolf's clothing. A wolf that has been shot.
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Excellent Black Humour Movie
A_HOWIE-15 January 2006
I couldn't believe the poor ratings this movie got. It is one of my all time favourites. There is a great cast. Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle are 2 of the best actors on this planet. This is a must see movie. I thought it was hilarious with a great story. Some scenes are so true tolife. It's like looking out the window. There were a few moans about it being filmed in Liverpool. It probably should have been Glasgow or Edinburgh as Liverpool isn't really much of a city anymore. Without giving anything away, Samuel L Jackson does wear a kilt. I think he thought he was going to Scotland. Emily Mortimer is a honey. I like it when she visits Robert Carlyle's mum and she asks if she still doing her job - It is so neat.
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Uninspiring and unimaginative film set in Liverpool
cinemaeditor-128 November 2001
Despite the fact that the 51st State's actual premiere was in London, the regional premiere at the Liverpool Odeon was nonetheless a relatively high profile affair, with cast members, producers and writer Stel Pavlou in attendance. Samuel L. Jackson made his apologies. In his absence, though, the night seemed to be successful in the one thing it was really geared towards: attracting press attention. But away from the cameras and red carpet, not even 'the man' Samuel L. Jackson could rescue an awful script and unimaginative direction. It was obvious from the first 5 minutes that this film had been through 19 script rewrites and three directors. In all honesty, I had not been expecting the film to be anything better than average, but somewhat ironically it was even worse than what I had anticipated. The story lacked originality and on its conclusion revealed a number of plot holes and missing links to the action unfolding on the screen. The colourful dialogue that you might be hoping for from Jackson in this kind of role is cliched and in character Jackson looks tired speaking the lines, almost like there is no effort whatsoever in his performance. The only promising acting comes from Rhys Ifans and Michael Stark (who is ultimately wasted in the film). The direction of the film is flashy and seems drawn towards capturing as many Liverpool land marks as possible, but never escapes the style Guy Ritchie pioneered in Lock, Stock and Snatch, which indeed for some viewers may be a good thing. Much of the film pans across Liverpool, leaving the actors in front of blurred backgrounds that loose all their distinctive shape which in turn destroys their significance. Evidently, this film is significant, though, for the city of Liverpool. It may be the key to attracting future filmmakers to the city. Yet what it turns out to be, sadly, is far from an advert to other filmmakers to find a home in Liverpool. Liverpool gets lost in this film, because all that you see are the famous landmarks stuck together with images of old warehouses and nightclubs. Having lived in Liverpool for the last 2 and a half years, 51st State did not look like it had been shot in Liverpool at all. Some moviegoers may find the idea of their city on screen (along with Samuel L. Jackson in that city) quite romantic, while others may see it as a genuine attempt to create a film out of the variety of locations in Liverpool.
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He's a chemical brother
arthurclay13 March 2005
With lines like "If you get in my way I'll have to shoot ya!" "If you get in my way I'll have to shoot you again!" and "Isn't it the way it always goes, elevator music, n!gga in a kilt, and a woman with a nickel plated nine." it is simply terrific and damn funny. Samuel L. is Elmo McElroy who was a promising pharmacist to be until a mishap forced him to become a chemist for a sadistic drug lord named Lizard (Meatloaf!). Elmo decides he doesn't want to work for him anymore and sets off for Liverpool with his new wonder drug POS 51. He quickly hooks up with a small time gangster named Felix (Robert Carlyle) and a female assassin named Dakota (Emily Mortimer) who is given the assignment of capturing McElroy so the Lizard can have his revenge. The best part of this film is watching the club scenes with the techno rave music which are money and the chemistry between Felix and Dakota they light up the screen. Mortimer is smoking hot I've never seen a British woman so fine in my entire life she's a goddess. I was surprised to find this one to be so good it didn't get much attention when it came to the theatres and it was made like four years ago I don't know why they waited so long to release it. Funny and light hearted it keeps you in your seat and wanting more. One of the best movies I watched this past year.
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Better with each watching. (CAUTION - HERE BE SPOILERS!)
iannicholls8 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I see this movie quite a lot. Not because I'm a no-life stalker with an unhealthy fixation for one of the actors, but because most of my pals here in California use me to translate the dialog.

Few people outside the UK understand what true sports-rivalry is until they have seen a football (soccer to foreigners) match between Liverpool and Manchester United, and the fact that this movie revolves around that among other things just makes it more enjoyable once the stuff on the peripheries becomes clear.

There are a lot of things that baffle non-Europeans in this movie - the small cars, skinheads, narrow roads, lack of armed police, etc. and the obsessed football fans ("There blokes shaggin' their mother-in-laws to get tickets for the match") are the most noticeable, and as the movie progresses and the story unfolds around Robert Carlyle's attempts to get his promised tickets and at the same time find someone with $20 Million to buy Samuel Jackson's drug formula, we are treated to a lesson in cursing in the British manner (with explanations thrown in so that foreigners will understand what most of the cursing is about.)

This was a most entertaining movie because I wasn't expecting anything going in. Those looking for another Resevoir Dogs or Snatch would be better off elsewhere ... this movie stands on its own without needing to be compared to others, and looking to slot it into a neat little "genre" cubbyhole is an insult both to the movies you wish it to be like and the movie that it actually is.

One other thing worth mentioning here, because it's so totally unimportant to the plot overall, is that Samuel L. Jackson is now officially the coolest man ever to wear a kilt in a movie ....

Mel Gibson may have been acceptable to most people riding around painted blue, wearing a dress, swapping from being Scottish to Welsh to Irish to whatever the hell his "Braveheart" accent was supposed to be a representation of (Who the hell could tell??), but Samuel Jackson just plays Samuel Jackson .... this will one day be recognized as the day directors stopped trying to change him into the character instead of creating the character around him - an honour accorded to maybe John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Newman.

The supporting cast includes MeatLoaf and Rhys Ifans playing unbalanced criminal loonies, and some of the best British actors and actresses you've never heard of - mainly because soaps and sit-coms from the UK rarely travel well abroad.

The wise-cracks are thick and fast, so much so that if you don't pay attention you really will miss something and there is lots of bad language that most non-Brits will have difficulty understanding and this may be the only area in which the movie suffers. Not the amount of bad language, just the fact that most people have no clue what most of it means :-)

The reason most people appeared not to like this is because they had difficulty in categorizing it. Was it a comedy, action, video-nasty, or stoner-flick?

What a shame they didn't use their two or three braincells to just watch the movie first and THEN decide what kind it was instead of trying to find something to compare it unfavourably to.

Then again, these are probably the same vacuous sheep that thought Pearl Harbor was such a "Masterpiece", and gladly that appears to have been just the type of the director was trying to avoid.

Full marks to Ronny Yu for taking us on this wild, weird, disgusting odyssey from Los Angeles to Liverpool and for doing what most directors seem to have forgotten how to do - letting the success or failure of the movie rely on the skills of the actors rather than the Special Effects Department.

I even gave it extra points for not pandering to the brain-dead masses by throwing in some talentless hacks with better "name-recognition" to be the eye-candy.
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