First-time screenwriter Stelios Pavlou enjoyed a major success with this script that he wrote while working in an English liquor store by sending it to actor Samuel L. Jackson, who signed on for one of the lead roles. Jackson is Elmo McElroy, a kilt-wearing, golf club-wielding Los Angeles native who has invented an illegal drug formula that he hopes will provide him with a last major score of 20 million dollars before he retires from a life of crime. He travels to Liverpool, England, where he hopes to find a buyer for his creation among the denizens of the city's rave scene, but his plans go awry when those who are in on the deal start turning up dead. Elmo's only protector is a chain-smoking, Yank-hating local hood named Felix De Souza (Robert Carlyle), who reluctantly partners with the violence-prone American to finish the deal and cash in, sparking a gang war between Elmo's vengeful one-time employer, The Lizard (Meat Loaf); Felix's boss, Durant (Ricky Tomlinson); crooked cop Virgil Kane (Sean Pertwee); a beautiful assassin, who also happens to be Felix's ex-girlfriend (Emily Mortimer); and an offbeat, yoga-practicing nightclub owner and mobster named Iki (Rhys Ifans). For its U.S. release, the title of The 51st State was changed to Formula 51.