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THE 51ST STATE (UK)
aka FORMULA 51 (USA)
USA: Columbia Pictures
UK: Momentum Pictures
Cast: Samuel L Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Sean Pertwee, Meat Loaf, Ricky Tomlinson, Rhys Ifans, Paul Barber, Michael Starke, Steven Walters, Anna Keaveney
Director: Ronny Yu
Countries: Canada / UK / USA
USA & UK: 92 mins
USA Rated: R for strong violence, language, drug content and some sexuality
UK Certificate: 18 contains very strong language, drugs references and violence
USA Release Date: 18 October 2002
UK Release Date: 7 December 2001
One's all talk - the other's all action. Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle star in THE 51ST STATE, a smart action comedy from Hong Kong's leading action director Ronny Yu.
Elmo McElroy (Samuel L Jackson) made one little mistake in 1971. He was caught smoking pot while driving home from his graduation. Just like that - in the blink of an eye - McElroy's dream of being a fully licensed pharmacologist, went up in smoke like the joint in his hand.
Fast forward to 2001 and McElroy is on the wrong side of the tracks. He makes drugs all right. But the wrong kind. He desperately wants out of this business - only this time he has an ace up his sleeve.
A wonder chemist, McElroy has created POS-51, a new party drug that promises to be a "personal visit from God". His boss, The Lizard (Meatloaf), a white dude with a skin condition who talks like Huggy Bear and thinks he's black, has a plan to sell this drug to a syndicate of the world's top drug dealers. But McElroy has other ideas, blows them all to kingdom come and takes the drug to the most obscure place he can think of to sell it - Liverpool, England.
Unfortunately what McElroy doesn't know is that The Lizard survived the explosion and has dispatched sultry Dakota (Emily Mortimer), a twenty something, card-playing beauty with a sniper rifle and a matching attitude, to track him down and bring him back to the fold. Not only that Dakota knows Liverpool well. It's where she left her ex-boyfriend, Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle), a tough, chain smoking, fast talking, anti-American hood. Felix now works for Leopold Durant (Ricky Tomlinson), Liverpool's biggest drug baron, the man with whom McElroy is about to make a 20 million dollar deal. And it is Felix who Durant has assigned to watch over McElroy while he's in town.
And so begins McElroy and Felix's rocky relationship, one that is cemented when Durant is taken out of the equation... For the arrival of McElroy and his new wonder drug has sparked a gold rush the likes of which the city has never seen. Everyone - rival rave club owner Iki (Rhys Ifans), police officer Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee), a gang of small time, inept skinhead speed dealers and even The Lizard himself - want their piece of the wonder drug and its creator, Elmo McElroy.
The only thing that stands in-between them is McElroy's quick mind and the irrepressible Felix. They've made an unlikely and spirited partnership to find a new buyer, willing to put up the 20 million dollars for the formula.
But Felix has things on his mind. Now he knows Dakota is in town - thoughts of a relationship are surfacing again. Though he knows Iki well enough to put a deal together with him for McElroy, unbeknownst to him, Iki is also good friends with Dakota.
Does Iki want the drug? Or will he turn McElroy in to forge a new alliance with The Lizard? Will Felix deliver for McElroy? Or will love get in the way?