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.
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Whenever the plot of the movie feels rote (the thieves assemble their team, plan the robbery, carry out the robbery, and doublecross each other a couple of times along the way) the arresting images carry the day. Cinematographer Chris Menges (who recently shot another existential mystery, The Pledge) finds the right pace: active yet unhurried, kinetic yet wistful. With shadows that turn into lush purples, greens, blues, and all gradations of black, The Good Thief is intoxicating. Indeed, it might be Jordan's most visually stimulating movie, and one has to wonder if the cookie cutter nature of the script set him free to imagine new visual possibilities. Lovers of the visual image will find much to appreciate; plot-driven viewers will find very little to hang their hat on.
Continue reading: The Good Thief Review