Sunday, 4 June 2017

Snatch (2000)

Fig 1 - Snatch Poster
Guy Ritchie's Snatch is a British crime/comedy that follows the escapades of a hapless criminal duo, a travelling boxer and the search for a much coveted stolen diamond. The opening sees a covert group of Hasidic Jews carry out a heist in Antwerp, at the helm of which is Franky "Four-Fingers" (Benicio Del Toro). An ex-KGB agent named Boris (Rade Serbedzija) then hires small-time delinquents Vinny (Robbie Gee) and Sol (Lennie James) to steal the diamonds from Franky, who soon prove themselves to be disorganised in their actions. Meanwhile a boxing promoter named Turkish (Jason Statham) sends his partner in crime Tommy (Stephen Graham) to purchase a caravan from a group of travellers (or "pikeys" as our heroes eloquently put it), along with their primary asset, boxer "Gorgeous George" (Adam Fogerty). Here they meet Mickey O'Neil (Brad Pitt), who finds himself badly injuring George in the ring and subsequently agrees to fight for Turkish in exchange for a new caravan for his mother. Mickey is then informed he must "throw the fight in the fourth round" or else incur the wrath of opposing promoter and all-round gangster "Brick Top" (Alan Ford).

I am unsure whether my feelings towards this film stem from a personal abhorrence towards anything overtly nationalistic or simply the fact that the film just isn't that great. Though there are elements that appeal to me, more often than not I found myself cringing at the quintessentially 'British' humour that often punctuates comebacks to statements of stupidity. It manages to glorify hooliganism, in the broadest sense, without straying into territory of films like The Firm (2009) which is undoubtedly inspired by Ritchie's directorial style. That said, I am a great fan of his Sherlock Holmes (2009) adaptation and even The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) to some degree, however I just didn't click with the subject matter here. More than anything, Snatch feels like the kind of transatlantic incoherence Tarantino would produce trying to direct an episode of EastEnders. It's all either being a little too on-the-nose or just downright silly.

Fig 2 - Snatch - Turkish, Mickey and Tommy
The barrage of characters introduced all seem to be at differing levels of performance quality. On the one hand, there is Jason Statham doing the whole 'Jason Statham' shtick. Then there is the saving grace of Brad Pitt's performance which. for me, would be the only reason to ever return to the film. His ludicrous Irish accent and jaunty persona give Pitt a character to really chew the scenery with in the best possible way. A far-cry from Tyler Durden perhaps but it all amounts to similar ends in that he is a fighter (though this time he's allowed to talk about it) and thus doesn't break entirely new ground with his performance.

Overall, I wanted to like Snatch more than I did. I do think the plot gets a little lost in the excess of characters and proves to ultimately showcase a production of 'style over substance'. Though it is quite clearly 'one for the lads', there is an undeniable audience for it and I'll continue to follow Ritchie's career in the hopes of better things to come. Here's hoping he won't do the same thing to Aladdin that he did to King Arthur.


Fig. 1 Snatch Poster (2000) From: Snatch - Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Fig. 2 Snatch Screenshot (2000) From: Snatch - Directed by: Guy Ritchie

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