This “Formula” is missing some key ingredients – like plot, characters, and dialogue.
Here is what it does have: the undeniably cool Samuel L. Jackson (who co-produced) in a kilt, fending off attackers with golf clubs and one funny joke. Unfortunately, it also has Samuel L. Jackson fending off some other attackers by inducing what I will tactfully call severe intestinal distress. And the joke is stolen from “Pulp Fiction,” in a much better scene featuring, um, let me think, yes, Samuel L. Jackson. It also has lots and lots of violence, with many people getting shot or blown up. And there are, oh, about 20 or 30 words in the script that are not profane, though none profane or otherwise that are particularly witty or memorable. It has kilt jokes, though none that are particularly original or memorable, plus I can’t figure out why so many people who live in England which is right next door to Scotland seem never to have seen a kilt before or at least know what it is called.
Jackson plays Elmo McElroy, a pharmacist by training who never got his license because of a drug conviction. So, he spent 30 years cooking up concoctions for a very mean drug dealer (played by rock star Meat Loaf) who not only speaks of himself in the third person but when doing so actually calls himself “The Lizard.” McElroy has an idea for one last big deal to buy his freedom. All he has to do is blow up all of his current customers and sell his latest invention, a drug 51 times more powerful than any ever invented before while avoiding the beautiful assassin who is trying to kill him.
Director Ronny Yu brings out the tired old Hong Kong camera tricks. Every other scene is either sped up or slowed down. He wastes the talented Robert Carlyle and Emily Mortimer. They play characters who have different motivations and even different personalities from scene to scene. They do whatever moves the story forward, which means whatever will cause the most destruction.
Parents should know that the movie has extreme graphic violence and non-stop profanity. The language used includes many exceptionally vivid British swear words, the literal meaning of which may not be familiar to some viewers. The characters are drug dealers (who generally themselves do not use drugs), and there is a generally lax attitude toward substance abuse of all kinds. There is one sex scene that is moderately explicit and brief non-sexual nudity.
Families who see this movie should talk about how McElroy developed the plan that would allow him to achieve his dream (which is not fully revealed until the credit sequence). Why was that dream so important to him? Speaking of dreams, they might like to talk about what it was about this material that made Samuel L. Jackson want to produce and star in it.
Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the far better “The Transporter” and Jackson version of “Shaft.”