Monday, April 4, 2011

Snatch Movie Review

This review was written in January 2001 and is presented here for the first time.

If you're familiar with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – the feature film debut of director Guy Ritchie then you'll understand why the plot of his new film Snatch is far too complicated to explain. Besides that, the plots of his two films are not really what's interesting about them. They function more as clotheslines for stringing together myriad characters whose paths cross in unlikely and often hilarious circumstances.


In a nutshell, Snatch concerns a diamond "the size of a fist," which is the object of desire for about a dozen characters throughout the film. There's Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro), a thief with a propensity for making very large and very stupid bets, who steals the diamond for Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina), an American who wishes to buy it. Then there's Doug the Head, a jewel shop owner; Brick Top (Alan Ford), the local mob boss who rids the world of his enemies by feeding them to sixteen starving pigs; Sol who, along with two cronies, plans to acquire the diamond at the urging of Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedzija) a Russian gun dealer; Turkish (Jason Statham), a boxing promoter who gets in trouble with Brick Top; and his partner Tommy (Stephen Graham). Finally there's Mickey (Brad Pitt), a gypsy and deadly bare-knuckled boxer whose accent is so thick even the other Brits can't understand a word he says.

Ritchie arranges the plot in such a way as to allow every character to come into contact with one another, usually erupting in brash violence. Each character is deplorable in his own way, but Turkish is the least deplorable thus making him the hero of the film. It's a world where everyone is motivated purely by money, and they're all willing to kill anyone who gets in the way. This is why by the end of each of Ritchie's movies there are few characters left alive.

We watch as each character makes one bad choice after another leading to the inevitable. Turkish, quite unfortunately, ends up in his situation through several strokes of very bad luck. He agrees to promote a boxing match between his fighter, Gorgeous George, and one of Brick Top's fighters. Of course George is supposed to go down. But through an unrelated side plot, George is hospitalized by Mickey. So Mickey is enlisted as the boxer to go down, and of course he doesn't. For Turkish, it just gets worse from there. The only thing that makes him the hero of the film is that he is the only character who is forced by circumstance into making bad decisions. He usually has no choices but ugly choices. And each ugly choice brings a newer and uglier situation.

Snatch is not as tight a story as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was. It's harder to really sympathize with Turkish in the same we sympathized with the four young men in the previous film. But Ritchie does a great job of creating a visual style that builds upon the style of Danny Boyle's early work, Trainspotting in particular, and making it his own. Consider the robbery in the beginning of the film – the camera moves from one security camera to another following the four soon-to-be thieves. Then it's all conventional camera movement until the guns come out, unleashing an explosion of camerawork and editing. It's difficult to deny that Snatch is a good lot of fun and I'm sure that a second viewing (as was the case with his first film) will reveal more plot intricacies and subtle jokes.

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