167 user 94 critic

Formula 51 (2001)

The 51st State (original title)
2:09 | Trailer

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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.



1 nomination. See more awards »



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Director: Ronny Yu


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)


$5,204,007 (USA) (8 November 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The tartan that Samuel Jackson wears is the MacGillivray Clan Hunting Tartan. See more »


SPOILER. Whilst Virgil Kane interrogates Leopold Durant, he tells Arthur to face front, pointing with his empty right hand, whilst holding his baton (which is inserted in Leopold Durant's left shoulder) in his left hand. When the scene immediately cuts to Arthur, Virgil Kane is pointing with the baton in his right hand. 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 »


Spoofs Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) See more »


Good Fortune
Written by PJ Harvey (as Harvey)
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
Performed by PJ Harvey (as PJ Harvey)
Courtesy of Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Licensed by kind permission from the Film & TV Division, Part of the Universal Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

Fun if you are in the mood and know what to expect - Jackson is key in making it stand out from the many other modern British gangster films
2 May 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Elmo McElroy is an American chemistry who has developed a new drug that is 51 times stronger, more effective and better than everything else on the market. He kills the major drug dealers in LA and heads to England to get a better deal. He arrives in England and is collected by Felix DeSouza and escorted to meet criminal Leopold Durant. However Elmo's hit on The Lizard failed and he remains keen to get hold of the drug - however the formula only exists in Elmo's head. The Lizard charges hit-woman Dakota (coincidently Felix's ex) to keep Elmo alive until The Lizard can get to him and get the formula. Meanwhile Elmo and Felix combine to try and sell the drugs.

Yet another in the treadmill of British bandwagon filmmaking, this film is, surprise surprise, a comedy British gangster movie with, wait for it, larger than life characters, funny violence and hyper-kinetic directing and editing. How very Lock Stock - things look pretty bleak from this description, except that the cast at least offers the hope that sufficient money has been poured into it to make it more than just another cheap cash-in on the success of Guy Ritchie's films. From the start it is obvious that this film is going to be more about energy than anything else and, to prove this, it then quickly edits it's way into a plot that relies more on forward motion and coincidence than anything else. The story is nonsense throughout and at times I found it a little irritating that so little attention was paid to the plot - but in fairness, to make a big deal out of that is to miss the point.

This is because the film is all about style, humour and pace and not about character or plotting. In this regard it is an enjoyable ride, albeit a silly and energetic one. The hyper directing from Yu really suits this and he does well even if he is not really very original in regards his shots etc. The editing fits with the formula set by Ritchie and is pretty much what you expect. What makes the film stand out from the rest of the copies is that it actually is quite good fun to watch (as opposed to some copies that are just cheap and nasty) - never hilarious but it is energetic enough to pull you along with it no matter how silly it gets. Of course it has weak points - a few characters are too daft and, whenever the overall plot is the main focus then it struggles.

Despite this the cast do well to keep things moving and they play a massive part in making this work. Jackson may not be doing anything new or wonderful here but he is key to the film working and he is worth every penny they must have paid him. He has great presence and he brings a lot of fun and energy to the film in a way that his lesser co-stars cannot. Carlyle is a good actor but he pales in comparison to Jackson in this - he isn't helped by the awful accent he is lumbered with and the fact that he is a little irritating. Mortimer is annoying as her character is just daft in the context of the plot, but not as annoying as Meatloaf who is easily the worst thing in the film. The support cast includes reasonable turns from Pertwee, Ifans, Tomlinson and Barber but this is Jackson's film 100% and it is difficult to imagine it being as enjoyable without him.

Overall, we all know what to expect - this is yet another gangster film in the mould of Lock Stock. In that regard it isn't original and it is, frankly, a mess in regards character and plotting. However it moves fast, is slick, clearly had a bit of cash thrown at it and, apart from a handful of stupidly silly moments, is actually quite fun to watch - even if it is almost instantly forgettable. The cast includes quite a few well-known faces but it is the awesome presence of Jackson (who looks like he is enjoying himself in an undemanding role) that makes this worth seeing.

23 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is there a slight possibility that -Americans- didn't like this movie? Jerry1670
Kid on plane redwinevino
Foreign hand gestures KeithFerguson
this is a terrible film. jp33
Song Felix Sings Entering the Pub? JSprague24
There are better films set in Liverpool too_many_movies
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