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Formula 51 Review


Grim
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.

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The Good Thief Review


Excellent
The heist movie, or robbery movie, has worn out its welcome in recent years. There's nothing more infuriating than feeling as though you're five steps ahead of the film, with no pleasure found in connecting the dots. The Good Thief doesn't really have anything new to add to the genre besides a sense of style. It's as though visionary filmmaker Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Company of Wolves) read the script, accepted it as a simplistic morality tale of an aging crook, and pumped up the sumptuous visuals, the seeps-into-your-bones soundtrack of global music, and the iconic figure of Nick Nolte. Those elements single handedly give The Good Thief a sense of purpose when it would otherwise have none, and the stylistic flourishes -- instead of feeling like they're present for their own sake -- add depth to what could have been another boring movie about doublecrossing.

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.

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