Madonna’s new husband, Guy Ritchie, couldn’t have timed his recent marriage any better. Intentional or not, it came a mere week before the opening of his new film Snatch, the follow-up to his Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. With Madonna as a willing shill, you couldn’t ask for better publicity.
Turns out you didn’t need it, Guy. Snatch is a film that stands perfectly on its own merits while it shoots bullet holes in everything in sight.
A more violent film you aren’t likely to see this year (and yes, I realize it’s only January). In the vein of Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, and Fight Club, Snatch is a gritty dance with the criminal element, revolving around a stolen 86-karat diamond that any good crook would give his right arm for. (And in one case, I mean that literally.)
After a boggling series of double-crosses, triple-crosses, and multi-crosses, Snatch becomes a game of who will end up with the gem — and how will they get it? Ritchie keeps us guessing at every turn, with Russians hiring mercenary crooks to steal the jewel, hit men sent to kill the mercenaries, mobsters trying to outwit the hit men, Jewish jewelers scheming to undermine the mobsters, a crazed bare-knuckled boxer looking for his payday despite the chaos, and one dog who’s lost his bark.
And every one of these stories is hilarious.
It’s Ritchie’s incredible, perfectly matched cast that makes the film work so well. It’s hard to say who is best: Alan Ford’s menacing Brick Top, who feeds his victims to his pigs when they cross him; Vinnie Jones (Gone in 60 Seconds) as Bullet Tooth Tony, a hunter/assassin who chills his prey with deadly stares; Benicio Del Toro’s caught-in-the-middle robber/gambling addict; Dennis Farina’s Anglophobe jeweler; or any of two dozen other apt actors who fully own their roles. In the end, though, you have to give a hand to Brad Pitt, still buff from Fight Club, as a mush-mouthed Gypsy boxer who always manages to get one step ahead of the crowd.
Cut these guys together with a zippy story (that doesn’t always feel like it makes sense, but no matter) and a jazzy-techno soundtrack (plus Mrs. Ritchie’s ‘Lucky Star’), and there’s nothing to dislike here. Even Ritchie’s over-aggressive filmmaking never gets that tiresome, though he runs through the entire pantheon of MTV camera tricks: slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, reverse motion, low angles, high angles, upside down camerawork, and more.
Of course, Snatch does not secretly harbor a touching tale of redemption, a theme of crooks who go straight, or any other sort of guts that might make us think differently about the world when we leave the movie theater. In fact, it’s not really about anything. Unlike contemporaries like Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting, with their messages hidden away amongst all the action, Snatch is just a good time. That’s not a bad thing, just don’t try telling me that Snatch is deep.
Er, you know what I mean.
The new Special Edition DVD includes two DVDs, the first a Superbit version of the film (no commentary track, despite what it says on the packaging). The second disc includes a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and more. You also get a collectable booklet of photos, plus a unique addition: playing cards and a dealer button, part of a Snatch poker set. The Blu-ray disc does include a commentary track, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and storyboards.
Pitt makes his play.