Lock, stock and two smoking barrels

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (right), the heavily-hyped debut from tyro writer-director Guy Ritchie, is the perfect post-pub crowd- pleaser. Set in a cockney-inflected underworld where Tarantino meets Ealing, it follows the exploits of four friends as they attempt to pay-off a six- figure gambling debt by robbing their villainous neighbours. The result: a high body count, and a sometimes confusing tangle of criss-crossing sub-plots. There's nothing subtle about Ritchie's screenplay, and only football's hard-man, Vinnie Jones, who is menacing as a paternalistic debt collector, brings a hint of shading to his characterisation. But LS&2SB is made with such style, rude energy, and humour that its rough edges not only don't matter, but ultimately add to its populist - and very British - charm. On general release

Stephen Applebaum