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The Independent Culture
Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (18), available to rent

FOUR LADS-about-town, pounds 500,000 in hock to the local mobster Harry the Hatchet, are about to find out how he earned his nickname, unless they can stump up within a week.

Against all the odds, Guy Ritchie's cocksure tribute to the classic British crime caper movie - the most financially successful British film of last year - succeeds. The dialogue is a thinly disguised love-letter to East End geezer patois, the acting is even more embarrassing and the various sub-plots, including a bunch of ex-public schoolboy hash dealers, barely hang together.

Ritchie more than makes amends elsewhere. It is shot on sepia stock and stitched together with all manner of bravura touches - slo-mo, collage, time-lapse - but the final effect is gaudier than a gangster's diamond tie-pin and just as alluring.

Sting notwithstanding, the minor character casting is spot-on, with Vinnie Jones more than holding his own. And even if it occasionally feels like a pop promo, at least the music sound-track can't be faulted. But it's the all-round swagger of the film that convinces. Top banana.