American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'' is like Tarantino crossed with the Marx Brothers, if Groucho had been into chopping off fingers. It's a bewilderingly complex caper film, set among the low-lifes of London's East End, and we don't need to be told that the director used to make TV commercials; we figure that out when a cook throws some veggies into water, and the camera shoots up from the bottom of the pot.
The movie is about a poker player named Eddy (Nick Moran), who is bankrolled by three friends for a high-stakes game with Hatchet Harry (P.H. Moriarity), a gambling and porn kingpin. Harry cheats, Eddy runs up an enormous debt, and Harry's giant enforcer, Barry the Baptist (Lenny McLean), explains that he will start chopping fingers if the friends don't pay up--or hand over a pub belonging to Eddy's father (Sting).
What to do? Eddy and his mates eavesdrop on neighbors in the next flat--criminals who are planning to rob a rich drug dealer. Meanwhile, Barry assigns two dimwits to steal a couple of priceless antique shotguns for Harry. The shotguns end up in the hands of Eddy and friends, who steal the drug money from the other thieves, and then--but you get the idea.
Or maybe you don't. The movie, which is an enormous hit in Britain, had its American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where I lost track of the plot and some of the dialogue.