Snatch (2001)

SNATCH, its pornographically promising title notwithstanding, is a
hyper-kinetic, hyper-violent, and absolutely dandy comic caper from 
Britain that stars one or two big names, including Brad Pitt, as a 
incomprehensible-speaking Gypsy fighter, and Benicio Del Toro, who, 
in the first genuinely wacky sight of the new year, appears at the 
film's start disguised as... a Hasidic Jew.  Holy oy vey!  The black 
garbed get-up is used in a diamond heist-- a zero-to-sixty-in-three-
seconds-flat sequence that's all spinning camera work and speeded-up 
film stock.  Thus sets the film's ultra-high energy tone; a racing 
pulse that'll also be accompanied by stills, split screens, and one 
set of colorful title cards introducing a dozen-ish mob guys, all 
with jolly names like "Glorious George," "Bullet-Tooth Tony," or, my 
fave, "Doug the Head."

The rapidly complicating plot involves a Russian mobster's attempt 
to "snatch" a giant gem off of Del Toro's character while he lays 
over in London.  Or, as Dennis Farina's stateside fence calls it, 
"Mary F***** Poppins London."  The Soviet hires a trio of bumbling 
guns, who soon cross paths with the story's *second* storyline, in-
volving an illegal boxing match and two other bumbling guns, hired 
by the event's hard-as-nails-and-then-some organizer.  Got it?  What 
results is a series of complicated uh-oh's, both funny as all get-
out and just as violent.  There are shootings and hackings and elab-
orate descriptions of body disposal via... hungry pigs.  Yup, lots 
of wincing for the characters (and probably the audience!) as they 
engage in endless amounts of droll, Tarantino-esque small talk. 
Narration, too!

Though the high-speed plot's a bit of a challenge to follow-- espec-
ially with the thicker accents-- writer/director/Madonna's new hus-
band Guy Ritchie's style is lapel-grabbing at its most effective.  
He won't let you look away and has even stacked the deck by casting 
a smashing rogues gallery of memorably menacing faces.  (The stand-
out is Alan Ford, no question, as the bad-toothed, Coke bottle-wear-
ing, ghoulish Albert Finney look alike "Brick Top.")  Ritchie also 
includes ample, enjoyable details:  cell phones playing "Hava Nagi-
lia," dogs swallowing squeaky toys, and the exact amount of slipping 
and sliding that occurs when one large, leather-clad getaway driver 
attempts to extricate himself from a parked, leather-seated car.
And just go ahead and pick your most-priceless sequence, like an at-
tempted robbery of a bookie joint with the rapidly deployed security 
barriers and one gunman clenching his sides after firing his howit-
zer-sized rifle.  Or Dennis Farina's arrival London, appearing in a 
loud, plaid suit and screaming "Shut up and sit down, you big, bald, 
f***!"  Or that tailgating gone bad.  Or, my favorite, a metaphoric-
al monologue comparing three increasingly frightened thieves to a 
pair of increasingly shrinking gonads.  Hilarious.  Alas, the whole 
thing *does* run long, maybe 'cause it tries to be *believable* dra-
matic at times.  (And instead rings hollow.)  And I suppose the gen-
erous amount of violence probably qualifies as gratuitous.  So, no, 
it ain't a date movie... even if it *is* laugh out-loud enjoyable. 
Mazeltov!  With Vinnie Jones, Rade Serbedzija, Jason Statham, Mike 
Reid, and Jason Flemyng.  (Rated "R"/104 min.)
Grade: B

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros