Formula 51

It looked like it was going to be an action movie with a lot of new extras we've never seen before, particularly because of quirks like it being set against a backdrop of English soccer mania and the hero (Jackson) wearing a kilt for some unexplained reason.

Unfortunately, the feeling is of a very vanilla flavoured action movie dropped in a strange place that refuses to break its bounds. Despite flourishes that looked a little different, the plot, characters and narrative are all very expected and easy to digest.

It deals with a drug maker (Jackson) who travels to England to sell the formula for a hot new drug made entirely of legal components. After the meeting to set up the deal is hit by a professional assassin, the hero hooks up with the requisite funny sidekick - given more flesh than usual by Robert Carlyle's profane charisma.

They try to clear their names, offload the formula and get the girl (in this case, the comic sidekick's former girlfriend who turns out to be the professional killer) to exciting and funny but pretty predictable effect.

Socially, it's interesting how big studio movies don't know how else to portray clubgoers except as drug takers. It taps into a deep seated fear/belief on behalf of the old white suits who control the money in Hollywood that the dance music scene is awash with illegal drugs and that the kids who are into it are pitiful victims continually taken advantage of by violent criminals.

And the 'hero' is made even more likeable to the audience by special care being taken to assure that he wasn't making drugs at all - just a placebo that tapped into people's power of suggestion (POS being the drug's name). God forbid any action hero cannot be made pure by his noble actions.

Rhys Ilfans plays his part to delirious comic effect and enjoys himself more than anyone else in the cast - Samuel L Jackson isn't given enough meat to work with and ends up like a black Jet Li. Robert Carlyle has a good time and must have thought he was going to be in something cooler than he was, but ends up a scouse version of Joe Pesci from Lethal Weapon.

It's all rounded off with a completely bizarre epilogue that seems totally unrelated except for some contract stipulation of Samuel L Jackson's that there be an iconic golf sequence of an American black brother shaking up the centuries-long tradition in the institution of the British golfing world.

Renamed after the American name of 51st State, presumably after a bad reception there.

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