Formula 51 Movie Review

The title of "Formula 51," couldn't be more appropriate for this perfunctory action-comedy, seeing as its cobbled together from at least that many formulaic plot points, formulaic action sequences, formulaic catch phrases, formulaic jokes and suffers from formulaic casting.

Samuel L. Jackson recycles his stock bad-ass persona for his starring role as a kilt-wearing, golf-playing, corn-row-sporting disgraced pharmacologist named Elmo, who has created a new rave drug that's allegedly "51 times stronger than cocaine, 51 times more hallucinogenic than acid, and 51 times more explosive than ecstasy."

After double-crossing his drug kingpin boss (Meat Loaf in a completely inept bad-guy performance), he's off to England to sell the concoction's chemistry to a higher bidder. But complications arise in the form of traitorous partners, crooked cops and a sweetly sexy assassin on his trail, all of which lead to many stale, hackneyed car chases and shootouts.

Plundering shamelessly and defectively from the Guy Ritchie playbook ("Snatch," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels") for his milieu, director Ronnie Yu (another Hong Kong prodigy who has sold out) offers up 10 times more soundtrack than plot and allows his actors to showboat and chew scenery like rabid dogs (scruffy Rhys Ifans of "Notting Hill" fame makes a particular nuisance of himself as a hyperactive drug dealer).

Yu puts minimal effort into staging flavorless, slow-motion, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink action sequences (Jackson beats cartoonish skinheads with his golf clubs) that feel about as fresh as a microwave dinner, and, perhaps because his grasp on Western humor is tenuous, often spotlights the screenplay's feeble, plebeian humor.

"Bollocks!" curses soccer hooligan and mob errand boy Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty," "Trainspotting") as Jackson scrapes up his Jaguar driving through a narrow alley during a car chase.

"Dog bollocks?" cracks Jackson.
"No, just plain bollocks!"
"No dogs involved?"
"No, just plain bollocks!"

This is screenwriter Stel Pavlou's idea of clever repartee.

While not inane enough to be galling, "Formula 51" simply feels like a humdrum paycheck project for everyone involved. Everyone, that is, except for the beguiling, willowy Emily Mortimer ("Lovely and Amazing"), who turns her delicately pretty, pouty features into a convincingly deadly instrument as the girl assassin, without losing an ounce of her innocently alluring charm.

Comments

Formula 51 Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, Opened: Friday, October 18, 2002

Advertisement

More Samuel L Jackson

'Django Unchained' Actress 'Handcuffed After Kissing Companion'

Daniele Watts, the American actress who appeared in the Oscar winning movie 12 Years' a Slave, was detained by police in Los Angeles on Sunday...

Top 10 Bizarre Cult Movies

Remember 2013’s Sharknado, the TV disaster movie about…erm, a shark tornado? Well, this week saw the premiere of the sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One....

Marvel's Comic-Con Panel Was Packed With "Ultron" Stars And "Guardians" Footage

No one is surprised that Marvel had big things prepared for their Comic-Con panel, after all it’s the biggest industry event of the year. Those,...

Wimbledon 2014: Samuel L Jackson, Hugh Jackman & Keira Knightley Watch Epic Men's Final [Pictures]

Celebrities flocked to South London over the past fortnight to see the stars of the tennis court compete at Wimbledon. Stars from around the world...

Advertisement

Why Samuel L. Jackson Might Still Appear in Star Wars Episode VII

Many publications have put the news out that Samuel L. Jackson – who played Mace Windu in the last (first) three Star Wars movies –...

Samuel L. Jackson Appalled At Harrison Ford Breaking Ankle On 'Stars Episode VII' Set

Samuel L. Jackson was shocked to hear about Harrison Ford injuring his ankle while filming 'Star Wars Episode VII' last week.The 71 year-old's ankle broke...

Samuel Jackson Talks Cancer & Recites 'Pulp Fiction' Speech On 'The Graham Norton Show'

Samuel Jackson knows the words of the gospel, or at least Ezekiel 25:17. The actor appeared on The Graham Norton Show on Friday night (13th...

Super Exciting Musical News: More A-Listers Added To The Tonys 2014 Line-Up

Tony’s, Tony’s, Tonyyyy’s! Cue life affirming musical montage.It’s almost time for the 2014 Tony Awards! Has it been that long since last year’s? Well, yes....

Advertisement