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UK 2000
Directed by
Guy Ritchie
103 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


Synopsis: Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham) are a couple of small-time crooks involved in unlicensed boxing with gang boss, Brick Top (Alan Ford). Their fighter, Mickey (Brad Pitt) fails to throw the fight and Brick Top isn't happy. Meanwhile Franky Four Fingers (Benico Del Toro), stopping over in London en route to New York to deliver a huge stolen diamond to his boss, Avi (Dennis Farina) goes missing. Things area about to get messy.

Frenetic, gimmicky and revelling in blokey violence, Snatch will please, or displease, for exactly the same reasons. Personally, I was very pleased. Having seen Ritchie's breakout 1998 hit, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the impressive predecessor to this film I was fully prepared to be bored by more of the same, as usually happens after a successful debut, but for once I didn't need to worry. 

Whilst essentially reprising the subject matter - the farcical misadventures of a varied gaggle of East End hoods, thugs and wideboys - and similarly using criss-crossing storylines as this motley crew pursue the same prize unbeknownst to each other, writer/director Ritchie rings enough changes and ratchets up the pace and intensity enough to exceed jaded expectations. In fact whilst Snatch does not have the elegance of plot that was so engaging in the earlier film and the bigger budget pushes it near to the boundaries of self-indulgence, this film is so well done that I actually liked it more. One cannot help but compare it to Tarentino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994) of which it is a transatlantic cognate (the jaunty '60s pop song over the closing credits is a very Tarentino-esque choice).

There are some great characters with catchy monikers and the East End argot is lots of fun, Ritchie, like Tarentino, having a real flair for dialogue. Alan Ford. who had been the narrator and briefly appeared LS&TSB is particularly memorable as the sociopathic Brick Top and Vinnie Jones who played Big Chris in that film reappears as Bullet Tooth Tony. The single moral to this story is that no matter how hard you are there's always someone harder. Which brings us to Brad Pitt who makes good use of his work in Fight Club (1999) as a bare-knuckle fighter with a killer right. Whilst Pitt is unquestionably quirkily entertaining as the padrone of a gypsy camp he is slightly too benign to gel well with the overall bovver-boy ethos of the film although one could as well suggest that he nicely leavens the potentially monotone proceedings

Ritchie's direction is excellent (the big fight sequence is outstanding) and editing and post-production effects are very snappy, making liberal use of freeze frames, fast forwards and graphic effects. All up, like some kind of manic theme park ride, this is clever, high energy stuff that pushes the envelope of visceral tolerance.




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