LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS IS THE coolest fucking British film you will see this year. Period. Set in the East End of London, it's a fast, frantic, and frequently flippant ride through the social strata of gangland--as four wide boys send one of their number, cardsharp Eddie (heartthrob Nick Moran), to take on local crime boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty) at poker, a strategy that misfires horribly. They soon find themselves in debt to the sum of half a million nicker, and they're not helped by the fact that Harry has put his debt collector Big Chris (soccer hardman Vinnie Jones) on their tails.

It's a tidy movie--all the dead bodies are shot and accounted for--and it's also got a wicked, very English sense of humor. Think of archetypal Brit Mod movie Quadrophenia (the ace Face from that film, Sting, plays Eddie's father JD here) or the old Pinewood Chicago thrillers of the '50s. Lines are spun and spat out so fast, it makes your head spin. The slow motion adrenaline-charged scene in the boxing ring/card school is awesome, as are the funnest couple of shoot-outs this side of The Italian Job. With its generous lashings of Cockney humor, Lock, Stock makes Tarantino look like the art school, panty-waisted wuss he undoubtedly is.

Made for next to no money, Lock, Stock was a smash in the U.K. last year, picking up trailers full of crappy awards on the way, and raking in the proverbial barrow load of cash ($22 million). Not bad for director Guy Ritchie's full-length debut. No wonder Tom Cruise has paid $1.7 million to tone down the film and sell it to the dumb Yanks. But fuck all that shit: what you want to know is what actors Jason Flemyng (wide boy Tom), Jason Statham (wide boy hardman Bacon), and Guy himself think of American breakfasts and jacking off dolphins....

GUY RITCHIE: I met this woman the other day who was telling me about this gang down in Brighton called the Southern Boys, and they've all got five houses. There's 30 or 40 of them, and they're really horrible...
GUY: Gotta be, ain't they? It sounds pikey, but you're talking about half-a-million pound houses. They won't pay for the house, but they'll pay for the interest. They're making a couple of million quid a year, each, on this fucking house scam that the social's paying for.

I figured you liked Brighton, cuz you had Sting in the movie. Was that a conscious nod in the direction of Quadrophenia?

GUY: He was The Man. That's the reason we got him in. I loved Sting when he had snot and attitude.

I preferred him when he was swimming with the dolphins myself.

JASON F: What was that in?
GUY: You've ruffled [Jason]'s feathers. He loves a dolphin. He was only asking this morning, can he swim with the whales?
JASON F: I didn't say "swim." I just said I wanted to see them in the ocean.
GUY: I'd join in only if I could harpoon them.

Did you read that story about that bloke who got arrested for jacking off a dolphin?

GUY: Oh, do me a favor. He was wanking off a dolphin?!
JASON F: The thing is, that dolphin whose name is Freddie...
JASON STATHAM: He's got a big swinging Hampton?
JASON F: They all do. Know what a Hampton is? Hampton Wick, dick. They get sexually aroused, and this guy has a relationship with...
GUY: Jesus, Jason. Cut to the chase!
JASON F: Oh fuck off. Ask Guy about shooting 200 frames a second then.

I like the dolphin story myself. Basically, what happened was this bloke got arrested for jacking off a dolphin.

GUY: Who arrested him? The dolphin police?

What do you hate most about Americans?

JASON S: Bit cruel, that question, isn't it?
GUY: I like their well-mannered, polite jolliness.

Yeah. They're like that to your face, then stick a knife in your back.

GUY: When I came over here, I got asked: business or pleasure? I thought, oh shit, business. K-chung! Five blokes straight around me. Then I said, promoting a film. K-chung! Ten blokes around me. "How much you being paid?" "I'm not being paid anything." Twenty blokes around me. What was worse was that I only had a one-way ticket, but fortunately they didn't discover that. I just blagged on and on and eventually they got bored of me.
JASON F: I worked in America for five months a few years ago, and the main problem is that all our irony and cruel humor goes straight over everyone's heads.

Where does your intimate knowledge of the London gangland come from?

GUY: It's not that accurate, really. It's just entertaining. It's my observation of what I suspect it to be like. You have eight different layers of underclass there.
GUY: Yeah.

Is that... I was gonna ask a dumb question there.

GUY: Go on.

I can't even say it. Sorry. What was your inspiration while you were making this movie?

GUY: The fact that one hadn't been made like this in the U.K. It's exactly the sort of thing I'd want to go and see. Me and me mates, we'd be watching something good--but just as you want it to take a left, it takes a right. I tried to make it a caricature... with, er, isomorphic indentations... erm, coupled by the jingoistic appraisal of the hyperbole, beguiled by myth, besotted by... all right, enough of that.

It's a very tidy movie. I like tidy movies. All the loose ends get gathered up.

GUY: Nick the Greek doesn't.

That's true. You could do a follow-up movie: Nick the Greek Goes Boating.

GUY: Nice one. He could be in the boat on the river, and catch the guns at the end. I wanted it to be reasonably wrapped up, but I didn't want it to be perfect. We got most things within three or four takes. Occasionally there's the odd runner or continuity person walking around in the background--and my experience of most sets is that when that happens there's a lot of shouting and cutting going on. I couldn't give a toss. As long as the boom doesn't come into the shot and the tarpaulin doesn't fall down, then I'm happy.

Something else about America: police cars driving around at five in the morning with their sirens blaring full blast.

JASON F: And why not? Who's going to stop them?
GUY: If I was them, I'd turn it off. Go home for a cup of tea.

Can't get a decent breakfast, either.

JASON S: That's not true. This hotel's been treating us royally. Scrambled eggs and a bit of fruit.
JASON F: Ah, but you want bacon, though. You want a proper greasy spoon.
GUY: I'm not a breakfast bunny myself.

I'd like to talk about the movie, but I'm not a fucking film critic....

GUY: I quite like that, I have to say.
JASON F: Did you like the film?Well, I went to see it twice, didn't I?

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