I have only seen two Guy Ritchie movies (he’s made 3 so far) and I can reasonably determine what the third movie will be like: 1) It will have a multitude of characters, some of which comes and goes at the whim of Ritchie, who is his own writer, and thus he’s his own creative partner; 2) It will have multiple storylines that intertwines and comes together at the end; 3) It will be set in the world of whimsical English gangsters, where everyone has a nickname or some quirky personality trait; and 4) Never expect the camera to stay still for too long, and expect more and more crazy camera techniques as camera advances continues to grow and Ritchie has more arenas to play with.
I was unfamiliar with Ritchie’s work when I went into Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, but I have since become very familiar with it. The British “crime caper,” as it’s called in England, has become something of an industry in that part of the world. You can either blame Ritchie for it or congratulate him for starting it. I’ll do neither. Snatch, Ritchie’s new movie, follows the same pattern as Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, and all the standard Ritchie formulas are there: a lot of characters; multiple running storylines; quirky gangsters with quirky names; and dizzying camera work.
Snatch’s storyline interweaves an illegal, unlicensed boxing match with a stolen diamond. Jason Statham returns from Ritchie’s Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels as Turkish, one of the illegal fight’s promoters, and American actors Brad Pitt is Mickey, a Gypsy fighter with his own language, Benicio Del Toro is Frankie Four Fingers, a diamond thief with a bad gambling problem, and Dennis Farina as Cousin Avi, a New York mafia involved in the diamond business.
The two storylines don’t seem to have anything to do with each other in the beginning, but true to Ritchie form, starts to slowly but surely come together. The movie is rifled with comedy and ridiculous moments, and everything is all very drab and gray, from the clothes to the faces to the scenery. One wonders if the movie, with its quirky situations and characters, might have benefited more from a movie with more colors instead of the drab look that Ritchie favors so much.
Even though people gets shock, cut, and chopped up into pieces, blood is relatively absent and everything is written, acted, and filmed in a way that makes none of the violence feel like actual violence. Everything is so stylized that there is little sense of tension, and thus the movie comes across as an exercise in style rather than anything of substance. Compare Ritchie’s movies to, say, Scorsese’s Goodfellas or to Antoine Fuqua’s latest offering, Training Day, and you realize Snatch comes up short by quite a long mile.
This isn’t to say Snatch isn’t a good movie. It’s a fun diversion, and those who worry about taking their movies “home with them” don’t have to worry with Snatch or any of Ritchie’s films. The flicks were made to be watched, enjoyed, and then forget once the theater house lights come back on. It’s a roller coaster ride that lasts for 90 minutes and then it’s time to go home no better or worst off then when you sat down for the ride.
Guy Ritchie (director) / Guy Ritchie (screenplay)
CAST: Benicio Del Toro …. Franky Four Fingers
Dennis Farina …. Avi
Vinnie Jones …. Bullet Tooth Tony
Brad Pitt …. Mickey O’Neil