Monday, March 16, 2009
A Frank Review of "Snatch" (2000)
The Short Version? Your got your stolen diamond in my bare-knuckle boxing match!
What Is It? Dick Flick/Comedy.
Who's In It? Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro.
Should I See It? Hell Yes!
I saw this picture in the theater with my best friend, exactly as it should have been, barring the inclusion of more guy friends. To this day, it's probably the best flick we ever saw together and both enjoyed. It is thoroughly a guy picture, to the point of a guy named Guy directing it, but chicks can dig it to. I've seen the picture many times since, and never with an audience that didn't have a blast. Clever souls can keep up with the byzantine plot and heavily accented banter. Dummies can coast on the flamboyant visual style, mad characters, superb sourced soundtrack and omnipresent cool. The only sourpusses are movie critics in the latter camp who can't stand being outpaced by the former.
The film starts with Turkish (Jason Statham) and his partner Tommy (Stephen Graham) sitting in an office, patiently if cryptically explaining themselves to the audience. The scene then shifts to a bank of security monitors following a group of Hasidic Jews through a jewelry supplier's offices as the credits pass. Cue a loud techno title sequence followed by a cartoonish montage introduction to all the major characters. At this point, viewers may begin to feel the film grasping at their imaginary scrotum, and it is up to each individual to decide whether to recoil or enjoy its silken caress.
We return to Turkish and Tommy, as Statham offers the snarky presence that made him a star and allows fans to forgive him his constant career missteps. Statham's voice is among the ideals you could hear narrating your own life, much less a movie. Alternately, there's Brick Top (Alan Ford,) one of the most vicious twats in cinema history. Put these two in a room together discussing the boxers they individually manage, and the movie offers a psychosomatic Smell-O-Vision testosterone experience. Dennis Farina's just around the corner, accentuating the musk to a near overpowering level. Already, Guy Ritchie's writing is greatly enhanced by a diverse cast of very distinct actors.
To detail more could potentially spoil the fun, though likely not, as every set up swerves repeatedly throughout the production. Brad Pitt's turn as the indecipherable pikey Mickey O'Neil is another iconic role for the actor. An ill-fated match early in the flick made my heart sink to the tune of "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers. Lennie James, Robbie Gee, Ade and Goldie are hilarious as a group of hoods in way over their heads. Vinnie Jones as Bullet Tooth Tony is one of the few legitimate hard motherfuckers since the heyday of Bronson and Eastwood. Finally, there's Boris The Blade (Rade Serbedzija,) the conniving, unkillable Russian that offers a great deal of belly laughs.
Snatch is a thorough pleasure that stands up to repeat viewings. It obviously owes a great deal to Tarantino, but while Quentin reworked hoary Hollywood tropes, Guy Ritchie's film feels modern and graced with verisimilitude. Also like Tarantino, Ritchie later diversified away from his strengths, which diluted Quent, but nearly destroyed Ritchie. Perhaps if Ritchie had continued to repackage this premise, I'd look on it less kindly, but compared to Swept Away and Revolver, it's downright brilliant.
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