There are a few questions that come to mind when the topic of Guy Ritchie's new movie, Snatch, comes up. First of all, did he purposely schedule his marriage to promote the film? Second, does he know what the word "snatch" means over here? Finally, how is it going to compare to his first flick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? The first two questions are anybody's guess. However, the third one is pretty simple. The two movies are so similar that it makes you wonder if Ritchie is capable of any other kind of film.
The film starts with a plot to steal a diamond. Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina), safe at home in New York, enlists Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio del Toro) for the job. Benicio del Toro is underused in this movie. He goes along with Snatch's strangest subplot concerning a group of London jewelers who pretend to be Jewish for the sake of their jobs. You don't get to see a lot of Frankie Four Fingers and, unfortunately, there's not much there when you do.
Turkish, a small time boxing promoter, narrates the story. It gets set in motion when he sends his dim witted partner Tommy and his prize fighter Gorgeous George to negotiate the sale of a caravan from the gypsy like "pikies" on the outskirts of London. When the pikies swindle the men out of their new caravan, Gorgeous George is challenged to a fight with Mickey O'Neill (Brad Pitt), a gypsy bare knuckle boxing champion capable of knocking out fighters with one punch. When he demonstrates this on Gorgeous George, Turkish is out of both a new caravan and a boxer for his upcoming fight.
This comes as bad news to Brick Top (Alan Ford), the high-powered boxing promoter who feeds people who cross him to his pigs. All of his bets are ruined with a change in boxer. The only solution is for Mickey to throw the fight so Brick Top can still come out on top. However, with Mickey's boxing ability, it's difficult to get him to throw a fight. So, the stakes pile higher and higher for Turkish and his buddy Tommy.
The parallel plot to this one concerns the diamond and it's whereabouts. This brings back Ritchie favorite Vinnie Jones playing Bullet Tooth Tony. He's Cousin Avi's right hand man in locating the stone. Avi's made the trek to England to get it out of Frankie Four Fingers's hands, fearing he'll gamble it away. Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedzija) and Sol (Lennie James), Vinny (Robbie Gee) and Tyrone (Ade) are all looking for the stone as well.
It's impossible to summarize the plot. There's just too much going on. Just as with Lock, Stock it's clear that something drastic is going to happen to save out heroes. It contains the same overly complex plot as Lock, Stock. It's also just as cool as Lock, Stock. Jason Statham was one of the good guys last time, but on his own as the narrator of this film, he's a little flat. Brad Pitt is enough of a bad ass to pull off Mickey. Who knows if his accent is accurate but who cares? Just go with it. Sol, Vinny and Tyrone add a lot of comedy to the film as well. There's also a cameo by Ewan Bremner (Trainspotting's Spud).
Comparisons to a director's films are inevitable but here it's almost impossible not to see the similarities between his films. Both feature a laundry list of London gangster characters. Both contain an impossible string of circumstances that seem impossible to get out of. Both films seem to be more about style than about substance. The soundtrack is great. The cinematography is also very stylish even though Ritchie borrows liberally from the styles of Tarrantino (shots from a car trunk) and Darren Aronofsky (sped up shots of Dennis Farina eating).
Only time will tell if Ritchie progresses beyond London criminals with clever names running around barely getting away with everything or if a unique, distinct style emerges. However, until that day comes, sit back and enjoy his flicks.
-- Robert Penty
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