Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Alan Ford, Benicio Del Toro
Like most younger siblings, Snatch just wanted to be like its cool, edgy big brother. While it definitely didn’t do it first, did it do it better?
Snatch is simply fantastic fun, that much is undeniable. Almost impossible to summarise, Ritchie expertly weaves together multiple plot-lines - each involving varying levels of criminality - and decorates each with a multitude of diverse characters, leaving you spoilt for choice as to who to root for. It's quick and slick, bounding from one story-line to another without even a slight drop in pace, while remaining easy to follow (provided you are paying attention), and thoroughly enjoyable. And with its winning combination of a razor sharp script and its casts’ impeccable comic timing, each of the many characters is immediately likeable, from Alan Ford’s stunningly menacing ’Brick-Top’, to Brad Pitt’s indecipherable Irish gypsy, ‘One Punch Mickey’.
Undoubtedly stylish, Snatch has a quirkiness which sinks its hooks in right from the get-go and doesn’t loosen its grip a bit. Every part of this film is relevant, and is used to enhance the feel and the tone of the film; everything is a character. London itself is a character, its locations creating the perfect gritty backdrop. The English Language and its subsequent bastardisation is a character (“I thought this country spawned the fucking language, and so far no one seems to speak it”). Even violence itself is personified by Boris the Blade, an Uzbekistanian who seemingly cannot be killed. The cinematography is purposefully gimmicky, its split-screens and slow-down/speed-up camera work mimicking the film’s crazed blend of characters and plot lines. It is fascinating to watch, almost impossible to turn away from, and is truly a testament to the energy and inventiveness of British Cinema.
Unfortunately, we must now confront the elephant in the room. It is difficult to review or even watch Snatch without comparing it to its hugely successful predecessor, (the cool, edgy big brother) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). Snatch is often criticised for essentially being a lazy carbon-copy of Lock, Stock, the same formula basically churned out again. It does have major similarities in structure, setting and tone, admittedly. But with Snatch, this formula was honed and it was perfected; each part of what made Lock, Stock great is polished and fine-tuned, resulting in a film that looks better, sounds better, is more ambitious and is more fluid. What Snatch lacks is the same heart, the blind naivety that Lock, Stock had before its popularity, and the messy ‘in-over-our-heads’ feel which is personified by Lock, Stock’s protagonists. Snatch almost feels too perfect, too well put together, such a mish-mash of events and circumstances feeling simply too improbable, too farcical. It perhaps loses some of the realism which made Lock, Stock so shocking and interesting to view; Lock, Stock was a dissection of London criminal life, Snatch is a caricature.
Despite this, Snatch will always be the one I reach for off the shelf. Yes, Ritchie re-used a winning formula to create Snatch, which did everything its big brother did. But everything it did, it did a hell of a lot better, resulting in a superior and, ultimately, more entertaining piece of film.
In one line: Incredibly well put-together and an improvement on the formula of its predecessor, Snatch is definitely a great British gangster film.