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Screen Gems
Official Site
Director: Guy Ritchie
Producer: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Dennis Farina, Benecio del Toro, Vinnie Jones, Rade Serbedzija, Alan Ford, Mike Reid, Robbie Gee, Lennie James, Ewen Bremmer, Jason Flemyng, Ade, William Beck, Andy Beckwith, and dozens more

Rating: out of 5

SNATCH could properly have been titled LOCK, STOCK, SEVERAL SMOKING BARRELS, SOME BIG-ASS EDGED WEAPONS, AND A FEW HAYMAKER PUNCHES, except that that won't fit on a marquee.

With what seems like incessant voiceover, SNATCH provides 90-odd minutes of bloody-minded entertainment. SNATCH is amusing in a "you know the world of Guy Ritchie" way, and Ritchie has staked out a dead serious claim to the title of Damon Runyon of British ultraviolence. Against the background of the sort of excellent music heard in Ritchie's prior film (and Mrs. Ritchie's "Lucky Star"), we meet a truly Runyonesque cast of characters. Menand they are mostly men with names like Frankie Four Fingers (Del Toro), Bullet-Tooth Tony (Jones), Boris the Blade (Serbedzija), Doug the Head (Reid), and Tyrone (Ade) populate these funny, mean streets of vice. Plus, there's a dog.

T he plot is a rich stew involving: an Antwerp diamond heist, a courier with a gambling problem and the small-time fences who fall into the honey pot when a 800+ carat diamond comes their way, Cousin Avi (Farina), a New York diamond dealer who's not as tough as he thinks, and sadistic crime lord Brick Top (Ford), who likes to bet on the fights, and especially likes to know the winners in advance. All of this swirls dizzyingly around our hero, Turkish (Statham), a smart-mouthed milk-drinking promoter of bare-knuckled boxing matches, and his Great Irish-Gypsy Hope, Mickey "One Punch" O'Neil (Pitt). And a dog.

At the intersection of the caper and the sweet science. we find the Pikeys British street slang for communities of caravan-dwelling Irish Gypsies such as where Turkish and his partner Vinny (Gee) find Mickey. Pitt, employing an at-times impenetrable accent, is all scruffy, watchable comedy. (To my mind, Pitt's usual pretty-boy school of acting should arouse the derision usually reserved for Keanu.)

SNATCH is all very entertaining, but we've been to this well before, the well of hazy, off-speed drunk scenes; a car wreck at a critical juncture; incompetent and risible events that once again prove just how hard it is for criminals to get good help; and several cars of guys driving toward a denouement while the music gets louder and louder and faster and faster in this case the music is "Hava Nagila," instead of the Zorba music used in LOCK, STOCK...

Though there are killings and maimings apace, SNATCH lacks the Peckinpah-like gun ballet of LOCK, STOCK... SNATCH's ickiest, most violent parts are the graphic, slo-mo boxing matches. Like at FIGHT CLUB, I had to avert my eyes. Then we leave SNATCH as we began it, contemplating Turkish and Vinny in chairs.

This sophomore effort is essentially the same story, just made to be played louder. Just as you could hear a new song on the radio and recognize Sting's voice and by the way, his spouse, Trudie Styler, is an executive producer here you would, within a few frames, be able to know a movie to be a Guy Ritchie product if you found unlabelled reels of film in the road. That doesn't mean SNATCH isn't entertaining, but it also doesn't mean that SNATCH is deserving of great praise.

óRoxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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