Snatch Movie Review

"I was a happy boxing promoter until about a week ago, and then -- what do I know about diamonds?"

What a great opening line for a plan-gone-awry crime caper comedy.

The picture is "Snatch," a fast-paced, multi-track corker with a nebulous English sense of humor, and the line is spoken by Turkish (Jason Statham), a small-time London tough who sees an opportunity to be something more but never imagines the trouble it will get him into.

Turkish becomes haplessly embroiled in the aftermath of a huge diamond heist, masterminded by a hoodlum courier named Frankie Four-Fingers (Benicio Del Toro). After a brazen daylight robbery in Antwerp, Frankie was supposed to deliver the prize stone to Avi (Dennis Farina), a big-time smuggler in New York. But things don't go so well during a stopover in Britain, where he's supposed to offload a handful of smaller stones to Avi's cousin, Doug the Head (Mike Reed).

A habitual gambler, Frankie is set up by another crook, Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia), to be mugged at the bookmaker while placing a big bet on one of Turkish's unlicensed, underground boxing matches. However, a pair of pawnshop owners Vinny and Sol (Robbie Gee and Lennie James) hired to hit Frankie bungle the job, setting off a domino effect of bad luck among London's second-tier criminal types. Soon Vinnie, Sol, Turkish and his partner Tommy (Stephen Graham) have run afoul of the biggest brutes in their anti-social universe -- guys with names like Brick Top and Bullet Tooth Tony.

A hip-trip joyride with a handful of cinema-cool Cockney roughnecks, "Snatch" is directed by Guy Ritchie, who has a flair for creating something stylish, imaginative and droll out of elements aped from recently influential genre staples like "Pulp Fiction," "Trainspotting" and "The Usual Suspects."

Two years ago he made "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," another dank, antic burlesque about inept British thugs which might as well have been a dress rehearsal for this picture. Both movies take place in the wake of miscalculated crimes. Both movies feature eccentric ruffians with whimsical monikers. Both are composed in a kinetic, soundtrack-driven style of freeze-frames, handheld cameras and accelerated edits. Both are packed with eminently quotable dialogue -- although this one is more notable for the one guy you couldn't quote if you tried. Brad Pitt is aces in an off-kilter supporting role as a scruffy Irish gypsy and bellicose bare-knuckle boxer with an undecipherable accent and a tendency to run his words together to boot. His role in the unraveling scheme is to throw a fight so Turkish can square things with a local kingpin. Instead he knocks his opponent down with one punch.

But where "Lock, Stock" sometimes felt like a broad stroke imitation of its genre predecessors, the considerably superior "Snatch" benefits from having a more mature, more original Ritchie in the driver's seat. And he puts the pedal to the metal in this consistently entertaining felony farce for the hip at heart.


Snatch Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, Opened: Friday, January 19, 2001


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