Movie Review By Casey McCabe
If you're a British filmmaker looking to grab the American spotlight, you could do worse than marrying Madonna, naming your new film "Snatch" and getting Brad Pitt to star in it. My guess is that Guy Ritchie would hate hearing Madonna's name mentioned before his. And word on the street is that he loathes comparisons to Quentin Tarantino, which I just haven't gotten around to yet. It's not my job to make Guy Ritchie happy. I might also question his originality. Ritchie made a modest name for himself with "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" the very hip 1998 gangster film about a group of friends who get caught up in the seedy London underworld. For his follow-up Ritchie has jettisoned the friends and outside world, and made well....another very hip film about the seedy London underworld. And did I mention Ritchie, a former music video director, appears to have never met an attention span he couldn't shorten?
But Ritchie is one clever bloke. And "Snatch" is a fun film. In some ways, perhaps, too fun.
"Snatch" opens with a diamond heist and illegal bare-knuckle boxing match that are only momentarily unrelated. From there things accelerate, escalate and intersect with giddy speed that Ritchie maintains until the final frame of film. He also likes holding a card or two to his chest. You might think "Snatch" is going to be about Benicio Del Toro's impeccably cool thief, Franky Four Fingers. Then Dennis Farina comes charging in like a bull moose as the American mob boss Avi. Yet here's the true hardass of the film, Alan Ford's highly unpleasant kingpin, Brick Top. Who may not even be as cold blooded as Rade Sherbedgia's ex-KGB operative, Boris The Blade. Who in turn seems to pale next to the late arriving mercenary gunman Bullet Tooth Tony, played by Vinnie Jones. And this ensemble still allows scenes to be stolen, or at least borrowed, by Brad Pitt, as Mickey O'Neil, a wiry Irish Gypsy boxer who speaks an unintelligible dialect, loves his Ma and fears no one. It's a great little part, and Pitt plays it winningly.
The British film is notably un-Hollywood in its egalitarian dispensing of screen time and complete absence of any love interest other than money. There's barely a woman in the entire picture, and not a single character is innocent. With it's pig farm hideouts, grotty pawn shops and gypsy trailer parks, "Snatch" is not a particularly glamorous film. But it is glorifying. I left the theater thinking....boy, I really need to get myself a gun. Not only to get my proper respects, but because everywhere you see a gun, it seems spirited hijinks ensue. The feeling quickly passed. I knew that if circumstances ever placed a gun in my hand, I would never be able to summon the cool as ice retort to go with it. In an embarrassment to all that is hip gangsterhood, I would simply wet my pants.
Faster than a speeding Tarantino, more fun than a bundle of current comedies, "Snatch" is worth its breakneck ride. Still, it left me curious what Guy Ritchie would do if someone took the gun out of his hands.
© 2001 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 1/17/01
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