Retro Review: Snatch

Being unfamiliar with director Guy Ritchie and his critically acclaimed “Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels”, it took me a while to enter his cut-throat world. Visually you are swept away with a lot of camera tricks and music montages that elevated different action films of the 1970s. Thus depicts the world of Guy Ritchie.

Snatch’s story isn’t exactly straight forward or can be summed up in a couple paragraphs but I will try. The center story revolves around a group of low caliber gangsters who eventually become involved with the pursuit of a 32 karat diamond. Coupled with that story thread you have a story about a mumble-talking Gypsy (Brad Pitt) who is talked into boxing for a couple thugs after he breaks the jaw of their best boxer. Then there is a renegade gangster boss (Alan Ford) who is obsessed with feeding dead people to a bunch of pigs, a New York big-shot (Dennis Farina) who is trying to find his courier (Benicio Del Toro) who is bringing him the diamonds, three bumbling pawnbrokers and a hitman with bullets for teeth (Vinnie Jones). These are just about half of the interesting characters assembled in this film.

When I first started the film, it took me a good 20-30 minutes to get encased in the style of Snatch. Snatch is brilliant as it assembles such a motley cast. I haven’t seen this many nasty characters involved in one story since “The Usual Suspects”. Each of these guys you believe may have a stake in London’s underground. The film has an amazing look and tone.

Hollywood pretty boys Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro blend seamlessly into the “cronies world” and never look back. Each of the quirky gangsters have their moment in the sun and it is very delicious on how each one is solidified from that moment. I really loved that aspect. All of these actors in this ensemble give amazing performances. Even though there are brutal and grizzly moments coupled with humor its amazing how the audience never really squirms. (Kind of like cartoon violence)

It’s hard to describe blatantly brutal violence cupped with wicked humor. The best way I can describe it is when I compare it to the comicbook writings of one Garth Ennis. Ennis’ recent works on the comicbooks “The Punisher” and “Preacher” are exactly the kind of tone Ritchie is digging for in this film. (Here is a thought why not hire Ritchie to do the new “Punisher” movie kicking around at Artisan.)

I also really enjoyed the boxing matches in this film. Unlike previous films we have realistic blood. I have never seen boxing scenes like these before and they were quite a treat.

My only real problem with this film was the initial shock that carried me in. I found that the hardest to take but after I found the groove it was a shock filled wonder ride. Other problems included the dialogue and thick accents which left me scratching my head in some places. But just as the accents became very thick you were greeted with a hilarious but often ghastly scene and some of those graphic scenes bugged me. (Remember these men are quite vile)

This film is British and proud of it. It is kind of interesting what that statement brings to this original and interesting entry in gangster cinema lore.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says The Soothsayer.

Written: January 2001

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