As his career develops, it may turn out that British maverick filmmaker Guy Ritchie only the taste and talent to make one kind of film – but, if those are as snappy, funny, and energized as his initial two movies “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” – that doesn’t really matter.
Snatch (2000) is similar to Ritchie’s previous film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998), essentially an intricate ensemble piece wherein all the characters inadvertently intermingle resulting in overall mayhem, confusion, and a general sense of just how small the world really is.
Once again the characters have Runyonesque names (Franky Four Fingers, Bullet Tooth Tony, Boris the Blade, Jack the All-Seeing Eye). Once again titles and narration are used to identify characters and underline developments. It is also filmed in the same visual style and features many of the same actors, including Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, and Alan Ford.
There is one addition in Snatch of considerable wit: In the previous film, some of the accents were impenetrable to non-British audiences, so this time, in the spirit of fair play, Ritchie has added a character played by Brad Pitt, who speaks a gypsy dialect even the other characters in the movie can’t understand.
Mickey : I’ll bet you for it.
Tommy : You’ll what?
Pikeys : HE’LL BET YOU FOR IT!
Turkish : What, like Tommy did last time? Do me a favour?
Mickey : I’ll do you a favour. You have first bet. If I win, I get a caravan… and the boys get a pair of them shoes.
[the Pikeys laugh at Turkish and Tommy, who are wearing plastic bags around their shoes]
Mickey : If I lose… Oh fuck it, I’ll do the fight for free.
Turkish : [narrating] Now the last thing I really wanna do is bet a pikey.
Having been a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s breakthrough film Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Brad Pitt approached the director and asked for a part in his next project. Ritchie was more than happy to cast him in Snatch, and initially offered him the lead role of Turkish, which ended up being played by Ritchie’s frequent collaborator Jason Statham. However, he found that Pitt couldn’t do a very convincing London accent, leaving him with few options for characters to play. Pitt could do a so-so Irish accent, so he ended up playing the role of “One Punch” Mickey.
Micke’s accent is apparently also an intentional move by Guy Ritchie as a response to some of the critics of his previous film, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, who complained that the characters’ thick Cockney accents were difficult to decipher, Guy Ritchie created the character of Mickey in Snatch to be intentionally hard to understand. The joke is that, not only can the viewer not understand Mickey; a lot of the other characters struggle to comprehend him, too.
From the opening segments of Guy Ritchie’s sophomore effort, it becomes blatantly obvious that you’re in for a wild, frenetic joyride through some of the seedier sides of Londonian life. Ritchie continues to prove himself a master of the situational crime film by delivering an ensemble-driven, multi-layered story revolving around an outwardly complicated but inwardly simple plot element: in this case, a diamond theft. He quickly layers the situations on top of one another until all of the characters collide in a brash display of manly fortitude (i.e. violence).
The boxing touts get mixed up with violent bookies. The lot of them cross paths with shady pawnshop operators. The pawnbrokers bicker with their own getaway driver, a man so massive he can barely get out of the car. The plot assembles its lowlifes in interlocking stories involving crooked boxing, stolen diamonds, and starving pigs. After Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) steals a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium, and returns to London, a Russian named Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia) and an American gangster named Avi (Dennis Farina) try to separate him from it–not easy, since it is in a case handcuffed to his wrist.
Meanwhile, a boxer named Gorgeous George is knocked flat out, and two shady promoters find themselves in hock to a crime czar. Desperate to find a winner, they recruit the gypsy played by Pitt, who is a formidable bare-knuckle fighter that London gamblers won’t recognize. Pitt’s character and the gypsy community where he lives are definitely the most intriguing parts of the movie.
“Snatch” is fun to watch, even if no reasonable person could hope to understand the plot in one viewing. Ritchie is almost winking at us that the plot doesn’t matter.
Snatch was written and directed by Guy Ritchie. It features an assortment of characters, including Irish Traveller “One Punch” Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt), referred to as a “Pikey”, arms-dealer Boris “the Blade” Yurinov (Rade Šerbedžija), professional thief and gambling addict Franky “Four-Fingers” (Benicio del Toro), American gangster-jeweller Abraham Denovitz known as “Cousin Avi” (Dennis Farina), small-time crooks Sol (Lennie James) and Vinny (Robbie Gee), getaway driver Tyrone (Ade), and bounty hunter Bullet-Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones). It is also distinguished by a kinetic direction and editing style, an intricate double plot featuring numerous ironic twists of chance and causality, and a fast pace.
Mickey in Snatch (2000)
- That Guy Ritchie develops the separate plots and characters, then masterfully weaves them together to form an eye-opening, violent and hilarious movie - a testament to his skills as a director.
- Brad Pitt rounds out the cast and delivers an unforgettable performance in this fast-paced riot on film.