Analyze This: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
This European masterpiece is widely considered, among critics and filmmakers alike, to be a perfect example of expert storytelling. Lock, Stock is a film with many threads, and Guy Ritchie weaves them together like a seasoned professional.
If that weren't enough, Lock, Stock also has one of the greatest movie soundtracks in existence, and is absolutely hilarious through and through. If you haven't seen it yet, don't let this analysis spoil the film for you - go and watch it as soon as you get the chance!
Act I: Introduction
Our story begins with Jason Statham, a.k.a Bacon, hawking stolen goods on the side of the street. As Bacon works his magic on the crowd, his parter in crime Eddy steps up and makes the first purchase, spurring the crowd into action. After a few sales, Eddy announces the police are coming, and the duo immediately take flight. While the 'cozzers' chase Bacon and Ed, a narrator lets us know that Ed is a cardsharp, and Bacon's days of selling moody goods is coming to a close. (2:50)
After the title screen, Ed walks into a shop and meets his friend Tom. Tom takes Ed and another man named Nick the Greek into the back room. Nick and Ed haggle over the price of some stolen speakers and come to an agreement. After Nick leaves, Tom hands Ed twenty-five grand, his portion of the stake for Ed's poker game. (5:20)
Next, we meet the last member of the foursome, a chef named Soap. After some ball-busting, Soap pulls his twenty-five grand out of the oven for the poker game. Ed picks up the phone and calls Harry to confirm they are on for the upcoming game. (6:36)
After Ed's phone call, the narrator introduces us to "Hatchet" Harry Lonsdale, and his muscle Barry the Baptist, or "Bazza" as Harry likes to call him. The villainous duo discuss Ed and his mates, and come to the conclusion that Ed and his elite poker skills are a liability that must be dealt with. (7:55)
Ed and company arrive at Ed's place, and a group of shady characters walk into the building next door. Tom gives Ed some guff about the dilapidated shack he calls home, before Ed opens the closet and reveals the thin wall that allows him to hear the unsavory activities of his neighbors. This natural transition introduces us to a joke of a man named Plank, and his drug dealing boss, Dog. (9:56)
Next, we meet Charles, J, Winston, Willie, and Gloria. They grow and sell cannabis, and business is apparently going well. Willie shows up at the front door, carrying a bag of fertilizer and a semi-conscious Gloria. Charles lets them in, but Winston takes issue with this because the metal security gate that is supposed to be protecting them is unlocked. After being berated, they agree to keep the cage locked. (12:30)
Big Chris and his son, Little Chris, are introduced next. Little Chris leads Big Chris inside a tanning salon, where Big Chris proceeds to scare the hell out of a man that owes money to Hatchet Harry. (14:47)
Ed, Tom, Bacon, and Soap are having some drinks at J.D.'s Bar, which is owned by Ed's father (Sting). They discuss the upcoming poker game, and dad overhears. J.D. confronts Ed about it, but he denies everything. (15:33)
Harry and Bazza continue colluding against Ed. Harry also tasks Bazza with acquiring a pair of antique shotguns from an estate that plans on auctioning them off soon. Barry then meets a pair of two-bit criminals, Gary and Dean, in a strip club and gives them the job of stealing the shotguns. (17:57)
Here we are barely past the fifteen minute mark, and things are moving along quite rapidly. A gang of characters have been introduced, along with the film's major themes: crime and money.
Act II: Rising Action
Ed and his friends set off for the poker game. All but Ed are turned away at the door. The rest are instructed to wait at the pub on the corner, Samoan Joe's. Ed walks inside and discovers a boxing ring with a poker table inside, where Harry and other gamblers are sitting. As Tom, Bacon, and Soap reach the pub, a man runs out of the building on fire. (19:50)
Gary and Dean arrive at the estate and get to work stealing the shotguns. Elsewhere, the gamblers listen to a woman named Tanya as she explains the rules for thepoker game. Gary and Dean creep through the estate, but someone is following them! Meanwhile, Bacon and his friends are miserable at the Samoan pub. To make matters worse, the man with the remote control refuses to turn the TV down. (22:17)
Back at the stately home, Gary is torturing the elderly couple in an effort to find their cash, but Dean informs Gary they don't have any money. An elderly man fires a shotgun from outside the couple's bedroom, and blows away most of Gary's perm, before being disarmed. (23:07)
During the poker game, it is revealed that Harry and Bazza have rigged the place with cameras, thus assuring their impending victory. Gary and Dean call Bazza and report their mission's success. The Castaway's Liar, Liar plays as a montage of the rigged poker game ensues. (26:09)
After the montage, Bazza alerts Harry that Ed has a pair of sixes, meaning Harry's sevens will win. Harry keeps coming over the top of Eddy's bets, but Ed doesn't have enough cash to continue. He is pressured into taking a loan from Harry, exactly five-hundred grand. The cards are revealed, and Ed has lost. He wanders outside and vomits. Barry the Baptist is waiting in the alley, and lets Ed know that he and his friends have a week to pay off the debt, and if they don't, then Harry will take his father's bar as payment. Ed vomits again, then he makes his way down to Samoan Joe's, and informs his friends that he lost and that they owe some serious cash. (32:04)
Now, it's time to check in on Dog, Plank, and the rest of their mangy crew. Dog is torturing a pair of drug dealers that owe him cash. One of them finally coughs up the dough, but it is too late and they are both murdered. Afterwards, Plank pays a visit to Winston and company for some cannabis. He accidentally sits down on Gloria, who appears to be dead. She scares him, causing him to knock over a stack of shoeboxes full of money. (36:24)
Meanwhile, Bacon, Tom, and Soap come up with a few terrible plans to pay off their debt. Ed is nowhere to be found - he is attempting to drink his troubles away. Elsewhere, Plank tells Dog about all the cash he saw earlier and all the cannabis Winston grows, so they decide to steal it. Fortunately, Ed has returned home, hangs his coat in the closet, and overhears his neighbors' plan to rob the growers. Ed meets his friends and convinces them their only option is to rob the neighbors after they are done robbing Winston. (41:30)
This final scene marks the "for better or worse" decision that propels us into Act III.
Act III: Climax
Big and Little Chris meet with Hatchet Harry - he reveals that the foursome owes him half a million pounds. Tom meets with Nick about moving the cannabis, and places an order for some guns. Nick, in turn, meets with the villainous Rory Breaker, who agrees to move the marijuana. Meanwhile, Tom discusses Rory with a local bartender. The barkeep tells Tom a story about Rory Breaker that ends in a man being set on fire... the same man they saw running out of Samoan Joe's that fateful night! (45:31)
Gary and Dean meet Barry to sell the shotguns. The only problem is, Gary and Dean kept and sold the only two shotguns that are valuable. Barry tells them to reacquire the guns posthaste. Unfortunately, Nick has purchased the guns from Gary and Dean, and immediately resells them to Tom for the heist. Elsewhere, Big Chris alerts J.D. to the growing situation, and tells him he can end it all if he just gives his bar to Harry, but J.D. refuses. (49:38)
Meanwhile, the boys have set up a recording system in the closet to monitor Dog and Plank's activities, while they continue planning for the job. Later on, Soap shows up at J.D.'s with ski masks and an abundance of knives, much to Ed's chagrin. Alan, the bartender, alerts Ed that Big Chris paid his father a visit earlier. He panics and tries to leave, but dad is waiting for him and knocks him out. (51:25)
Tom brings his newly acquired guns over to Ed's, and the foursome go over the plan again. Soap mentions his love of knives again, before the neighbors leave to rob Winston and friends. They notice the neighbors are wearing uniforms, and decide to get some of their own. (53:36)
Plank arrives at Winston's and weasels his way in, but the metal gate is locked. He draws his shotgun on Charles, who promptly faints. Dog and the others hear the commotion, and run inside - one of them is carrying a huge machine gun! They manage to get the keys off the floor, but can't get the gate open. Winston, Willie, and J shoot the robbers with an air gun from the staircase, and the man with the Bren gun returns fire. Dog is angry and tells him not to fire the gun again, then he blows Charles' toes off and threatens to kill him if the gate isn't unlocked. Winston tells Willie to hide upstairs, while he and J let the robbers in. (59:00)
The thieves make their way upstairs, but the money is gone! Dog commands one of the thieves to check the back room where Willie is waiting with a machete. Willie slices the man's arm up, but doesn't kill him. Dog is livid... until he sees the stacks of cash and dozens of marijuana plants in the back room, that is. Outside, the driver of the getaway van is getting a ticket from a traffic warden, so he knocks him out and throws him in the back of the van. (1:02:05)
Dog orders his cronies to gather the cash and weed, and makes plans to dispose of the growers. Unfortunately for them, Gloria, who's been asleep on the couch the whole time, hops up, grabs the Bren gun, and opens fire. She manages to kill the injured crook, but Dog and Plank survive. Dog knocks her out, counts his blessings, and leaves with the stolen goods. (1:04:45)
Meanwhile, Ed, Bacon, and Soap hide inside the neighbor's house, while Tom waits outside and watches for the crooks. Tom takes care of the cabbies that are lingering outside, and alerts his friends that the crooks have returned home. After Dog and his gang walk inside, Tom bursts in and the foursome successfully bind and rob the criminals. They find the keys to the van and vamoose! (1:06:48)
Elsewhere, Harry tells Big Chris to pay the boys a visit, since their week is almost up. Tom takes a sample of the weed for Nick to give to Rory, after they unload the cargo into another van. Rory receives the sample from Nick, and tells his goons to take the sample to "Snow White and the Three Chemists" for testing. The goons quickly arrive... at Winston's and discover the carnage! (1:10:44)
Dog and company manage to free themselves. He angrily orders them to look for bugs, then hit the streets and find out who robbed them, while Ed and company count the cash next door. Elsewhere, Winston recounts the robbery for Rory and he loses it, demanding his thugs to call Nick the Greek. After the cash is counted, the foursome head to J.D.'s for an iconic drunken montage. (1:14:19)
Much to Rory's surprise, Nick shows up, proving he had nothing to do with the robbery. He demands that Nick tell him where the boys live. Back at home, Dog is furious - his men came up with nothing. He tosses them around the room, and puts Plank through the wall... and into Ed's closet that still harbors the recording equipment! (1:16:30)
While the boys have some coffee to cure their hangovers, Dog and his crew set up inside Ed's house. Dog takes the money upstairs to count, as well as the shotguns, and orders his men to take position for the foursome's arrival. Meanwhile, Gary and Dean call Barry and inform him the guns are gone forever. Barry won't accept no for an answer and reveals they are working for Hatchet Harry. Gary and Dean call Nick, forcing him to give up Ed's location. (1:19:45)
Now that everyone knows where Ed lives, it's time to move on to Act IV.
Act IV: Falling Action
Thanks to another montage, we see Big Chris, Gary and Dean, Rory and his men, and the foursome en route to Ed's apartment. Rory and his crew are first to arrive, and they charge in with their guns drawn. Plank opens fire first, and a gnarly shootout ensues. Dog hears the commotion, grabs the cash and guns, and jumps onto the street from the second floor. Big Chris walks up to Dog, gives him a headbutt, and retrieves the cash and guns for Harry. (1:23:20)
Gary and Dean are parked across the street, and they argue over who should go get the guns. Big Chris gets in his car and leaves, so Gary and Dean must follow. They hit Dog with their car in pursuit of Big Chris. Dog gets up, shakes it off, and steals a car from a passing motorist. (1:24:32)
Back inside, Rory and Winston are the only two left standing. Rory has ordered Winston to load the cannabis into the van, and he's almost finished. Unfortunately for Rory, one of Dog's men is still alive, and the two shoot each other. Winston hears the shots, hops in the van, and flees the scene. (1:25:30)
Finally, Ed and his friends arrive home to discover a pile of corpses in place of their loot, and decide to leave. Back at Harry's, Big Chris returns the money and shotguns to Harry, and receives his payment. Ed calls Harry to tell him the "bad news" - Harry demands an audience. Outside, Gary and Dean watch Big Chris leave Harry's, and go inside to retrieve the guns. (1:28:55)
Dean bursts into Harry's office with guns drawn, but freezes - Harry is holding one of his recently loaded shotguns. They stare at each other for a second, but Harry fires first, blowing Dean away. Gary is enraged, grabs Dean's guns, and blows Harry away in response. Barry throws a hatchet into Dean's back, but Dean manages to turn around and fire his last bullet, killing Barry. Meanwhile, Big Chris arrives at his vehicle, only to discover Dog is in the backseat with a knife to his son's throat. Big Chris has no choice but to start the car and make his way back to Harry's. (1:30:45)
Finally, the boys arrive in front of Harry's. Tom volunteers to go inside with Ed to face the music. Fortunately, everyone is dead. Ed takes the money and returns to the car, while Tom stays behind to grab the shotguns he loves so dearly. Outside, Big Chris slams into the back of Ed, Soap, and Bacon as they wait in the car. This disarms Dog and Big Chris, in a fit of rage, repeatedly slams Dog's head with the car door (the defining moment of Vinnie Jones' career). (1:33:10)
After Chris is finished killing Dog, he checks on the "victims" of the car crash and finds the boys with the bag of money. He picks it up, goes inside to return it, and finds Tom with the shotguns, and a room full of corpses. Tom leaves out the back, Chris and his son escape, and everyone else gets arrested. (1:35:00)
Act V: Resolution
Ed is being questioned inside an interrogation room, while the assaulted traffic warden from earlier looks on - he cannot identify Eddy, Soap, or Bacon as one of the criminals, so the police are forced to release them. (1:35:15)
J.D. is waiting outside for his son, and briefly chats with him. Once J.D. is assured that everything is copacetic, he tells Ed to walk back to the bar, as he is lucky to still be breathing. Hours later, Ed arrives at the bar as his friends are about to leave. (1:36:55)
Ed sits down and tells his friends they are in the clear - the only thing tying them to the crime spree are the antique shotguns. Unfortunately, Tom still has them in the trunk of his car, so he is forced to leave and dispose of them. (1:38:38)
Big Chris walks in shortly after, carrying the money bag. He drops it on the table, and tells the remaining three that they are settled up. However, he had to take some money out of the bag to provide for him and his son, since his employer is dead. After he leaves, the boys rip open the bag and discover there is no money inside, just a manilla envelope. The boys open the envelope and discover an antique gun catalog inside. They quickly discover the shotguns are worth serious cash, and frantically try to call Tom before he disposes of them. (1:41:40)
Elsewhere, Tom stops his car on a bridge and pops the trunk. He takes one last look at the shotguns, wraps them up, and tosses them over the bridge. He peers over the railing to discover they landed on the ledge! Before Tom leans over the railing to dispose of the guns, he places his cell phone in his mouth. Dangling precariously over the side of the bridge, Tom has one hand on the guns, and one hand on the railing... then, his phone rings. The film ends with a still shot of Tom hanging from the bridge's railing while Pete Wingfield's 18 With a Bullet plays. (1:43:56)
There you have it, folks - yet another example of filmmaking at its finest! As detailed as this article is, I can't even begin to do it justice with mere words. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is a piece of filmmaking history - it launched three careers and helped bring UK films and television back into the US mainstream.
Good luck, and happy writing!