Formula 51 (The 51st State) (2001)

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Released 5-Oct-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 88:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ronny Yu

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Robert Carlyle
Rhys Ifans
Emily Mortimer
Meat Loaf
Ricky Tomlinson
Sean Pertwee
Aaron Swartz
David Webber
Michael J. Reynolds
Sonny Muslim
Barbara Barnes
Junix Nocian
Case ?
RPI ? Music Headrillaz
Casper Kedros
Darius Kedros

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, including drugs
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes, something for the ladies!

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What a ride! You can certainly have a lot of fun with a film like this as long as you don't try to think about it too much. Formula 51, which was released in the UK as The 51st State, is a fast paced action comedy reminiscent of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch without necessarily being as good. I have read that Samuel L Jackson so wanted to make this film that he did a lot of work to raise the finance, hence he also has an executive producer credit.

    The story revolves around master chemist Elmo McElroy (Samuel L Jackson), who has been in the employ of a drug syndicate chief called The Lizard (Meatloaf in a kaftan). Early in the film he 'resigns' from his job in the US and goes to England to sell the formula for a drug he calls POS51 to whoever will give him $20 million first. Other characters he meets along the way include Felix De Souza (Robert Carlyle), a local hard man in Liverpool, Leopold Durant (Ricky Tomlinson of The Royle Family) a crime boss, Dakota Phillips (Emily Mortimer) an assassin sent from the US, Iki (Rhys Ifans) a Liverpool drug dealer and nightclub owner, and Det Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee) a bent policeman. The film is full of these and other quirky and eccentric characters which is one of the main similarities to the films mentioned above.

   Samuel L Jackson seems to be having a great time playing the crazy, golf club wielding, fast driving, kilt wearing main character. He plays the role with his usual aplomb and attitude. Rhys Ifans is also a stand-out as a strange yoga enthusiast and drug kingpin. Robert Carlyle is also good as a character who thinks he is tough until he meets Elmo. Some excellent comedy relief is provided by a group of punks who repeatedly try to attack Felix & Elmo to very little effect.

    This film will not appeal to everyone and has a number of quite gratuitously violent scenes and jokes that are in bad taste. It is also full of swearing, including many people's most hated, the 'c' word.

    For me, I found this film enjoyable and a fun ride, despite lacking any depth whatsoever.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 2.30:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was generally clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some light grain from time to time. Shadow detail was good, however there were only a few dark scenes.

    The colour was very good throughout with all colours being reasonably well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was very natural. The colours were not as vibrant as some films, possibly due to the drab Liverpool setting of most of the film.

    There were a few small specks on and off throughout the film, noticeable when you are looking for them, but they were not distracting. I did not notice any other artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a single layered disc so there is no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is very good, with continuous use of the surrounds and subwoofer.

    This DVD contains only one audio option: an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand, except for some accents (which was not a big issue). There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by Headrillaz , a UK house group, was very fitting for the modern and fast-paced nature of the film.

    The surround speakers were used constantly for directional effects such as bullets and the like. The subwoofer was used to add to the sound effects.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu included a scene selection function but nothing else. It was static and had no sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This is the rental release and so contains no extras, however, it is available for purchase in both Region 1 and Region 2 with significant extras. The Region 2 seems to be the pick and includes a commentary, making of featurette, DTS sound, 4 production featurettes, on set diary, photo gallery and a trailer. We will have to wait for the Region 4 sell-through release to really compare.


    This disc contains a funny, exciting but shallow action comedy in the same genre as Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc has no extras as it is a rental version.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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