Sunday, 29 November 2020

Movie Review: Snatch (2000)


A madcap crime comedy, Snatch buzzes with derisive energy and restless mischief but veers towards overindulgence.

An enormous 86-carat diamond is stolen in Antwerp and Franky Four-Fingers (Benicio del Toro), a thief and gambling addict, transports it to London where he intends to connect with jeweller Denovitz (Mike Reid). Soon disparate underworld characters throughout London are chasing the priceless gem. Crooks Vinny, Sol and Tyrone are hired by Boris The Blade to steal the diamond, and Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina) flies in from New York and gets Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) involved.

Meanwhile, Turkish (Jason Statham) and his buddy Tommy (Stephen Graham) are mid-level hustlers who unintentionally get embroiled with Irish gypsies, specifically bare-knuckle brawler Mickey O'Neill (Brad Pitt), as they try to participate in illegal boxing bouts organized by intimidating crime boss Brick Top (Alan Ford). As the worlds of gambling, brawling, swine-feeding and gem-pursuing violently collide, desperation mounts and dead bodies litter the streets.

Director Guy Ritchie follows up 1998's Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels with more of the same. Snatch is more polished and ambitious, but rides the same wave of masculinity run amok, the characters living in their own hierarchical foul-mouthed world detached from normalcy. Powered by audaciously edgy camera angles and a pessimistic but bouncy soundtrack of 1970s British music, the scramble for a gigantic diamond is an epic battle royale among hard heads. 

The first half is stronger, with sharp character introductions, wry nicknames, and humour derived from Turkish and Tommy's bemusement as they enter ever deeper into Brick Top's orbit and butt heads with the impenetrably accented Mickey. The Russian Boris and his three bargain-basement bandits are a riot, their attempted hold-up of an illegal bookie joint a legendary botch.

But having done a lot of hard work, Ritchie allows Snatch to sag in a case of too much attitude and insufficient depth. The characters are starved of opportunities to evolve and get lost in an indistinctive jumble of shoot-outs and car crashes. The level of dynamism is maintained, but in the absence of empathy the action is more mechanical than potent.

From the large cast, Brad Pitt emerges with the most memorable performance, his closed-captions-required rendition of a brawler exuding coiled charisma. In a small but pointy role, Vinny Jones leaves a brooding impression as Bullet Tooth Tony.

Snatch may lack grounding, but boasts an unyielding desire to thrill.



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