Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) is a master chemist and the genius behind a designer "wonder" drug worth a cool $20 million. After ceremoniously blowing up his lab (and bosses) in Los Angeles, he heads to Liverpool, England, in search of a buyer for his new party favor. But in between dodging an assassin's bullets and trying to stay one step ahead of the law, Elmo finds an unlikely partner in a small-time gangster (Robert Carlyle) who happens to hate all things American.
Sam was attached to the project for five years, and he really brought it to light. He’s the one who reached out to me about this project. He’s a huge fan of Hong Kong films and had seen my movies, and he thought my sense of humor and how I shoot action will work well here.
In the beginning, I just had Sam, then I came over to London and met Bobby Carlyle, sat down with him and talked about the character of Felix. We clicked immediately. And then Andras was walking through Soho one night and happened to spot a book featuring Meat Loaf and he knew that’s The Lizard. It was an inspired choice for sure.
We filmed on location in Liverpool. As a guy from Hong Kong, I was fascinated to hear about Liverpool being the first port in the slave trade. Normally when we think of the slave trade we think of America. The idea of McElroy coming all the way from America to Liverpool to reclaim his dignity and position in society, I just thought it was brilliant.
"...The fun of the movie is the chance it affords to watch Jackson, who also served as executive producer, take his smooth, shrewd, powerful act abroad....."Susan Stark, Detroit News
"...Formula 51 is bloody and bloody funny, and Jackson and Carlyle make the best salt-and-pepper team since Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte knocked heads in 48 HRS..."Ty Burr, Boston Globe