Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes
British director Guy Ritchie has been called the English Quentin Tarantino. Like the American, Ritchie employs flashy dialogue, hyperbolic violence, quirky characters, and non-linear sequencing to grab attention. But Ritchie's movies have a rougher, playfully amateurish quality: while Tarantino took Hollywood cliché and created art, Ritchie just makes outstanding entertainment.
Meet Franky Four Fingers, Boris the Blade (or Boris the Bullet Dodger), Bullet-Tooth Tony and Brick Top, four characters from Ritchie's latest film Snatch. Franky thinks that one of the pillars of Catholicism was a result of an error in translation - Greek scholars mistook the Hebrew word 'young woman' for 'virgin'. Boris the Blade likes to insert ear plugs before a hit. Bullet-Tooth Tony refuses to die no matter how many times you shoot him. Brick Top feeds people to pigs.
And none of that has anything to do with the plot, which has something to do with illegal boxing and a stolen diamond.
The closest thing to main characters in Snatch are Turkish and Tommy, two young illegal-boxing promoters who, days before a fight, lose their boxer. As a substitute they use Mickey, an Irish gypsy, played exceptionally by a muscley, tattooed Brad Pitt.
The problem with Mickey is that he has a tremendous right, ergo a hard time not knocking out his opponents before the time comes for him to take a dive. This is bad news for Turkish, who becomes indebted to Brick Top, the pig guy. In the meantime, a different set of criminals pass a stolen diamond like a hot potato. The two stories intertwine.
As impressive as it is that Ritchie crams so much scum, muscle, deception, and mishap into one story, a description of the plot is probably moot since what makes the movie is the play between individual characters. We have Brick Top delivering a long speech about why feeding corpses to pigs is the best means of disposing of bodies. He concludes that a starved pig will eat two pounds of human flesh a minute.
One of the people he terrifies with this theory is an obese getaway driver who had earlier rescued his friends by casually opening a door they thought was locked. Later, the two he saved are sitting in a car; one mentions the possibility of being mugged, the other says, "Who is going to mug two black fellows holding guns and sitting in a car worth less than your shirt?" Then the two are mugged.
And so on. In the end, Snatch doesn't resolve anything as much as it collapses into a pile of dead bodies. Some have criticised the film for its violence, which is like criticising Dirty Dancing for its dancing. The main thing is that the film is hilarious, sublimely filmed, and one step ahead of the viewer at every turn. It's got tremendous soul even if it doesn't always have a mind. It's the best movie yet by one of the funnest directors of pulp film working today.
1. Jan 1970 at 1:00 | Matthew J. Reynolds