Snatch: British Gangsters Botch Up (Review)
Snatch is an iconic British crime-comedic film with a celebrity cast portraying blundering British underground thugs on the dawn of the 21st century.
Whether you’re a film snob or you just enjoy the occasional thrill of an action-packed adventure, or perhaps you enjoy a bit of a swooning session and idyllic escapism in a historical period drama, there are some directors that are known to even the most oblivious of film connoisseurs. Not just known for the famous and often iconic films they have directed, these filmmakers have developed a cult following for their cinematic style and vision. Think of Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan or Wes Anderson. Perhaps best known for his marriage to Madonna, Guy Ritchie is also the mind behind Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and the 2019 film The Gentlemen. However, it is his first feature films back in the 2000s that created his cult following.
In Snatch, initially released in 2000 and out on 4K Ultra HD™ July 12, we are given a glimpse of the London underworld and follow the comedic endeavours of various petty criminals, who are ultimately all connected. The film opens with a diamond heist by a group of criminals pretending to be Jewish in Antwerp. Their treasure, an enormous diamond which varies in value throughout the film, piques the interest of many small-time criminals with its arrival into London. While various plans of re-stealing it are thought out and executed, a second plot is introduced in which we follow a minor boxing promoter called Turkish (Jason Statham, Fast and Furious, Crank) who finds himself indebted to sadistic gangster “Brick Top” Pulford (Alan Ford, An American Werewolf in London, Cockneys vs Zombies), who is more than happy to have his henchman carry out glorification acts of violence.
Along the way, we meet unique characters that are famous for the actors’ portrayals. There’s Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Moneyball) as incomprehensible Irish Traveller “One Punch” Mickey O’Neil, who gets roped into a match-fixing boxing deal and befuddles everyone along the way. There’s Benicio del Toro (Traffic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) as a professional thief with a serious gambling addiction called Franky “Four Fingers”. Dennis Farina (Out of Sight, Get Shorty) features as the American gangster-jeweler Abraham Denovit who is known as “Cousin Avi”. In the role of bounty hunter Bullet Tooth Tony there is a stoic and taciturn Vinnie Jones (X-Men, The Riddle). That is just to name a few of the most colourful and expressive characters present in the large and star-studded cast of Snatch. As expected, an expansive cast also means multiple main plots and various subplots.
For those who have watched Ritchie’s first feature film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, both the narrative and the characters must seem very familiar. Indeed, a large part of Snatch’s cast, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Deep Rising) and Alan Ford, has worked with Ritchie before, in his first feature film. Besides sharing the same themes, ideas and motifs, the films are also shot in the same visual style. Ritchie is known for his energetic style of direction and his unique editing style. Elements of this, the intricate double plot, the numerous ironic twists of chance and causality, as well as a fast pace, are amongst Snatch’s main points of attractiveness. Add in the British slang and black humour and you have a film worthy of its cult status.
The non-linear narrative and the interweaving stories give the plot speed and a degree of comedic effect. Whereas the characters on screen blindly dive into ambushes and booby traps, the viewer, from the comfort of their couch, can see exactly how it will all go terribly wrong. Towards the grand finale of Snatch, there is one particular scene that plays with this non-linearity of the narrative and at the same time unites three of the interweaving stories. Though we know all the fragmented pieces of the film’s plot, it is finding out how they are connected and how they will merge that makes the film exciting and exhilarating. Ritchie plays with the various tropes of the often stereotypical characters, such as with the Irish Traveller, “One Punch” Mickey O’Neil. Knowing Brad Pitt would be terrible at a London, let alone English, accent, he let Brad Pitt freestyle at an Irish/English accents that no one, not even the characters in the film, can understand. Thus creating hilarious misunderstandings and mix-ups that give the plot and the characters unique twists.
If you can’t exactly follow the cockney slang that is thrown around with abandon, let alone Brad Pitt’s very well-done brawl, the visuals will certainly keep you engaged and wanting more. Switching between fast cuts and slow motion, Ritchie plays intricate tricks on the eye that make up for the, at times, rather convoluted story. He provides visual support and plot clues for when the narrative becomes a bit too lost in translation. This also creates razor-sharp action that is as thrilling as it is detailed. Snatch balances a plethora of London accents and slang with innovative and cutting-edge camera work. Ritchie has created a rich piece of cinema that ticks all the boxes, cinematic and narrative wise.
Snatch will be released on 4K Ultra HD™ on July 12, 2021. Click here to watch the film on Amazon Prime Video.
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