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Formula 51

Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Rhys Ifans and Meat Loaf
Screenplay by Stel Pavlou
Directed by Ronny Yu

IN SHORT: Red Pill Blue Pill. Been There Done That. [Rated R for strong violence, language, drug content and some sexuality. 92 minutes]

Every year and a half or so we see another film in the Trainspotting mode -- that mode being rude, crude, gross, disgusting (more to the point disgustingly funny ), and stuffed with obscenity and accents so thick you need a jackhammer to break through them -- all of 'em trying to catch that genie in a celluloid bottle once again. All of 'em fail, all to differing degrees because, simply, it's been done! That, of course,doesn't mean that it shouldn't be attempted. Sooner or later some one will find a mix similar enough to the original that lightning will again strike. Formula 51, which adds a pair of Americans to the mix of cast members, has its moments. It never quite makes it to the boiling point, but manages to sustain a good simmer for most of its running time.

We begin on the American side of the Pond, where a mob mastermind called The Lizard (Meat Loaf) awaits the latest psychotropic concoction to come from the mind of his master chemist, Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson). McElroy never wanted the criminal lifestyle. He celebrated a wee bit too much when he got his pharmacologist license thirty years earlier and now he wants out of the game. That means getting rid of The Lizard ... in as quick and noisy a method as possible.

What McElroy had developed is called "P.O.S. Formula 51," a combination of perfectly legal, over the counter medications that produce effects 51 times stronger than acid, coke and almost everything else illegal, combined. With The Lizard out of the way, McElroy heads for Scotland, where a mobster named Durant (Ricky Tomlinson) is waiting with a suitcase full of cash and a head full of greedy expectations. Met at the airport by underling Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) McElroy, now wearing a kilt and lugging golf clubs, soon finds himself on the wrong end of a sniper's rifle. That sniper happens to be Dakota Phillips (Emily Mortimer), Felix' ex-girlfriend. She works for The Lizard, who isn't exactly what you'd call "dead.". From here on in Felix and Elmo must avoid Dakota and local corrupt cop Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee), at least until they can figure out what to do before The Lizard arrives from the States. Along the line, enemies will change sides, various cash deals will be struck and blood will flow as fast as the four letter words do. Add to the local color Dakota's arms supplier, a lunatic club owner/ arms dealer Iki (Rhys Ifans) and a lovely nod to the movie The Matrix (Elmo offers a group of thug skinhead dealers that want a cut of his deal a choice of "the red pill ... or the blue pill") and you're off to the races.

Of course, the dumber the thug, the funnier the situations. Formula 51 features one incredibly dumb thug but he doesn't get to screw up enough times to make the film a laugh riot. Jackson adds toughness but, at its heart, the film is an untraditional love story requiring a patch to the old, abandoned affair between Felix and Dakota. If not for the language we would almost say that Formula 51 is almost a cuddle-some movie. If not for the cuddling, then for the extra set of ears you'll need to figure out what the hell these foreigners are yapping about <vbg>

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Formula 51, he would have paid . . .


Pay per view level. Rent, if only for an answer to the question: What does a good Scots man wear under his kilt?

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