Formula 51 Movie Review

If you were suffering from a nasty cold, would you settle for a less-than-soft, generic tissue to soothe your chapped snout, or would you pay a little more to get the plusher brand name? Of course, nothing beats the real thing! Formula 51 is like that sub-standard nose rag - it's just an artificial substitute for a much better British action-comedy.

The plot is loosely framed around the kilt-wearing master chemist Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) who has developed a new illegal drug that produces a high that is 51 times better than cocaine, acid, or ecstasy. When McElroy attempts to sell the drug's formula to a mobster named The Lizard (Meat Loaf), the deal goes bad and McElroy flees to Liverpool with only his golf clubs. While there, he meets up with Yankee-hating thug Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) assigned to help McElroy score $20 million for the drugs from a local gangster (Ricky Tomlinson). Unfortunately, this deal also fails. DeSouza and McElroy must now find new buyers while staying clear of other rogue groups who want the formula, and an assassin (Emily Mortimer) hired by The Lizard to return McElroy to the states.

It doesn't take long before the plot holes pile up and we realize director Ronny Yu has very little concern for making something remotely original or exciting. In fact, Formula 51 is nothing more than a cheap imitation of Guy Ritchie's Snatch. Formula 51 has the same camera angles, the slow and fast motion photography and the beat-drumming techno score like its predecessor. As far as its nonsensical story, the film is also littered with similar side switchings, double crossings, and deal makings. Sadly though, there is not a shred of new material.

Despite being an obvious fleecing of Ritchie's film, Yu also fails to produce engaging action sequences. The film opens with a gun battle and car chase, but then the adrenaline rush retreats, and leaves us with 80 minutes of boring chitchat about McElroy's blue, Skittles-like drug. In actuality, his drug formula is nothing more than a MacGuffin (an object everyone in the film is motivated to steal, but we could really care less about who ends up with it). Hell, we're never even shown the unbelievable effects supposedly produced by it. During the film's finale, Yu echoes our lack of interest by suggesting the drug may just be a placebo. The only thing surprising about the ending is the credits - that's all I will reveal.

Aside from a few laughs at the expense of Jackson's kilt, Formula 51 lacks the substance needed to sustain our interest. The majority of the humor is potty related, literally, and strictly childish. Jackson sleepwalks through his role and can only muster a tiresome extension of the same character he plays in Pulp Fiction. The rest of the cast is largely unlikable and cannot generate a shred of natural chemistry. Formula 51 fails for all of the reasons Snatch thrives.

Aka The 51st State.

Who looks pretty?


Comments

Formula 51 Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, 2001

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