Formula 51 (2001)
"The 51st State" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime  |  18 October 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 41,890 users   Metascore: 23/100
Reviews: 167 user | 94 critic | 29 from

An American master chemist plans to score big on a once in a lifetime drug deal. All does not go as planned and he is soon entangled in a web of deceit.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Jezek ...
Jake Abraham ...
Mac McDonald ...
Aaron Swartz ...
David Webber ...
Mr. Escobar
Sonny Muslim ...
Boy in Plane
Barbara Barnes ...
Boy's Mother
Mr. Ho-Fat


Elmo McElroy is a streetwise American master chemist who heads to England to sell his special new formula - a powerful, blue concoction guaranteed to take you to 'the 51st state.' McElroy's new product delivers a feeling 51 times more powerful than any thrill, any pleasure, any high in history. But his plans for a quick, profitable score go comically awry when he gets stuck in Liverpool with an unlikely escort and his ex-girlfriend and becomes entangled in a bizarre web of double-dealing and double-crosses. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Have a good trip. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, language, drug content and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

18 October 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Formula 51  »

Box Office


$28,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£913,239 (UK) (7 December 2001)


$57,988 (South Africa) (31 January 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Uli Edel was originally set to direct. See more »


While inside the parking garage, Dakota is driving a 1967 Mustang convertible. When she emerges from the parking garage and throws her blond wig away, she is driving a 1965-1966 Mustang. See more »


[first lines]
Elmo: I mean, rules are like, arbitrary, you know. Made up for people who believe in fairy tales like, you know, like Santa Claus. Hey, but not us, right? I mean, we know what's important. There's a war going on, man. A war. Ain't that a bitch?
[cop sucks his teeth]
Elmo: I just graduated today, man. With honors. Got my degree in pharmacology. I'm licensed. Look, if you write me up on this drug charge, I won't be able to practice. So what we're talking about here is, is my life. The rest of it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Shortly after the credits start there is a short segment with Elmo on the Golf Course outside the castle on the post card See more »


References Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) See more »


A Timeless Beauty
Written by Daye & Baker
Published by KPM Music Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

State of surprise at sleeper hit - 75%
19 April 2004 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

I remember this being a film I wanted to watch when it was released in the cinemas but I never got a chance to see it. It didn't help when Mum raved about it after watching it on Sky. So last night, Channel 4 gave me the perfect excuse for being late for work today - by showing this film and "Hard Boiled", I'll be a few minutes late after writing the reviews. Yay!

Back to "The 51st State" which revolves around Samuel L Jackson, a master chemist and drug producer who flies to Liverpool to secure the final "big deal" before his imminent retirement. The always fantastic Robert Carlyle is Felix, his contact and unwitting accomplice when things go wrong - as they always do in these sort of circumstances. Haven't they played GTA: Vice City? Anyway, the film is a stylish and comical action thriller with it's unusual setting, eccentric characters and unexpected comic twists. Jackson is, without a doubt, the coolest actor in moviedom at the moment. Only he could pull off wearing a kilt in a movie without looking a moron. Carlyle is perhaps a little excessive on the language (both in volume and content) but plays the Scouse stereotype perfectly. One thing this film does very well: almost every Scouse stereotype you can think of is there - car thief, misguided support for Liverpool, skin heads, every third word an expletive. The only unbelievable segment was the car chase which would never have reached the speeds it did in an actual Liverpool street.

Despite this, "The 51st State" is a fast-paced and well-made film which deserves more credit than it currently gets. I approached this film thinking that its gimmick was its setting - Liverpool is a million miles from downtown LA or New York, let's face it. But not so - there are so many oddball characters to make the film interesting that Sean Pertwee's straight-faced turn as a dirty cop seems out of place. Everyone else has their tongue firmly in their cheek. The sight of Jackson in a mammoth Seventies afro haircut signals this movie's intentions right from the start (and finish).

I have no hesitation in recommending this film. It will undoubtedly appeal to British viewers more than Americans but who cares - it's so refreshing to see that we can make movies like this with a largely British cast at such a standard. Jackson is so cool, it's like he's walking on dry ice and steals every scene he is in. "The 51st State" really does have something for everyone and I'm finding it very hard to find something not to like about this film. It's no "Face/Off" but it's still an enjoyable and exciting film, one which you really should see. Shame you missed it at the cinema, though.

44 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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