The 51st State

  • 18
  • Ronny Yu (2001)
  • UK / Can
  • 88 min
The 51st State
Film Review
Reviewed By
2 out of 5

On the surface, this visceral crime thriller from Bride of Chucky director Ronny Yu is merely an exercise in noisy excess, and yet several elements mark it out as something slightly unusual. For openers, the script about a master chemist trying to sell the ultimate in designer drugs was sent to Samuel L Jackson by a first-time writer and off-licence worker (Stel Pavlou), and then given the go-ahead. On top of that, it's set in less than glamorous Liverpool; streetwise Jackson's pharmacist hero wears a kilt; and antagonistic sidekick Robert Carlyle is a rabid football fan who's only in it for a prized match ticket, not the money. It's these tongue-in-cheek details - and familiar Liverpudlian faces from TV shows such as Brookside - that add a touch of freshness to a fairly mindless film. Rhys Ifans's eccentric crime lord and Emily Mortimer's sexy hitwoman don't ring true at all, but gritty realism isn't on the agenda here.

Plot Summary

Action comedy drama starring Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle. After trying to kill a psychotic LA drugs baron, pharmacist Elmo McElroy flees to Liverpool where he hopes to sell his wonder party drug to a local gang boss and live off the proceeds. But with a hitwoman on his tail and a corrupt local cop to deal with, a peaceful retirement looks a long way off.

Cast and crew


Elmo McElroy
Samuel L Jackson
Felix De Souza
Robert Carlyle
Emily Mortimer
Rhys Ifans
Ricky Tomlinson
Virgil Kane
Sean Pertwee
The Lizard
Meat Loaf
Paul Barber
Shirley De Souza
Anna Keaveney


Ronny Yu

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Momentum Pictures
Violence, swearing, a sex scene and drug abuse.
Available on video and DVD
Released 7 Dec 2001
Certificate 18