Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Alan Ford
As if to prove to the world that he's a good bit more than "Mr. Madonna," writer-director Guy Ritchie has expanded on his low-budget breakthrough film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with this much larger-budgeted crime caper. The results may not make the bulk of the world start thinking of Madonna as Mrs. Guy Ritchie, but Ritchie certainly shows us that he's far from just being a pop star's husband. Snatch is most certainly not a film for everyone. It's gleefully amoral, frequently savage, undeniably cold-blooded ("Why is there a one-armed corpse with a tea cosy on his head in the boot of your car?"), incredibly over-the-top, and just about the most breathlessly effective piece of hysterically funny, fully-realized filmmaking imaginable. Snatch is being compared in some quarters to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction -- a comparison that is not wholly apt. Pulp Fiction was essentially a blandly directed, script-driven film that took a reasonably straightforward narrative and put it together in jigsaw-puzzle fashion. Snatch is a film where script and direction are on even footing: Ritchie's convoluted story and dialogue are great, but much of what works here is the way in which he presents the story. Moreover, whatever else Snatch is or isn't, it cannot be accused of having a straightforward narrative. Ritchie's fragmented use of time in the film is by no means grafted on, but an integral part of the story. Pulp Fiction could be re-edited into a linear fashion. Snatch not only couldn't be, it would turn what is now merely convoluted into something nearly incomprehensible. The story line of Snatch -- at its simplest -- concerns a jewel heist gone wrong, thanks to the quirks of Benicio Del Toro's (Traffic) Franky Four Fingers and the efforts of various representatives of British lowlife and general criminality to avail themselves of the huge diamond he was transporting, prior to being kidnapped (with a tea cosy over his head) and more or less inadvertently killed. Into this mix comes a bottom-of-the-barrel illegal fight promoter named Turkish (Jason Statham) and his vaguely defined "partner," Tommy (Stephen Graham) -- an Irish Gypsy bare-knuckle one-punch wonder. Other memorable characters include Mickey O'Neil (Brad Pitt in a truly remarkable performance), a vile big-time boxing promoter named Brick Top (Alan Ford) who specializes in feeding his enemies to his pigs, a seemingly indestructible Russian gangster called Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedzjia), and a cute-but-vicious Gypsy dog. Not one of the characters in the film can be said to have any truly redeeming characteristics -- with the possible exceptions of Turkish and Tommy -- yet they all come off as weirdly likable. (Perhaps the whole attitude that makes these largely inept dregs of society amusing is best summed up in the line: "You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.") An even greater feat is the fact that Ritchie somehow manages to make all the characters in his sprawling cast carry the illusion of reality. No character seems just sketched in. Add to this the fact that the man packs more stylistic invention into five minutes of film than most directors evidence in two hours, and you're left with a truly remarkable achievement. At first, Ritchie's style almost seems like MTV-trendy overkill, but it soon becomes obvious that this is the perfect manner in which to present the story. Quite literally, Snatch is a knockout. The only question is: Where does Ritchie go from here?