The 51st State


(2001) ★★

BBC3: Saturday 26 September, 10pm

Chemical brother Samuel L. Jackson aims to evade vicious LA crimelord Meat Loaf by bringing his sensational new designer drug to Liverpool. Called POS 51, it’s supposedly comprised entirely of legal ingredients, fifty-one times stronger than cocaine and the secret is in the mix – which is inside Jackson’s head.

With twitchy Scouse henchman Robert Carlyle in tow, Jackson sets about setting up a $20million deal with a succession of unreliable lowlifes. Relentlessly foul-mouthed, head-banging comic-strip caper pasted together from bits and pieces of movies made famous by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie.

Hong Kong film-maker Ronny Yu directs the laughable action – which is spectacular, brutish and finds humour in pain, death and destruction – in utterly pointless flashy fashion. The cops, of course, are either corrupt or Keystone-inept, while the stereotypical British hoodlums range from Ricky Tomlinson’s haemorrhoid-plagued kingpin to Rhys Ifans’ would-be entrepreneur, a self-styled ‘sky-high-artist’ who even manages to get on his own nerves.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 89min

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