Film Commentary [7-27-01]
One in the Hand - - Snatch
Genre: Crime caper/comedy
Grade = A-

Snatch, the second film by Guy Richie who previously delivered Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is a continuation of his story telling style.

The film opens with the dramatic theft of a huge 86 karat diamond from Amsterdam. The thief is Frankie Four Finders (Benicio Del Toro) who transports it to London. He also has a gambling problem. The main character is Turkish (Jason Statham), a young entrepreneur who arranges and manages bareknuckle boxing matches that are quite illegal in Britain. Turkish has arranged a boxing match for his fighter Gorgeous George and has made the unfortunate decision to involve a local viciously sadistic hoodlum named Bricktop (Alan Ford), known for his habit of murdering those that cross him and feeding their bodies to the pigs.

Turkish decides that he needs a new caravan (trailer) as an office and sends his junior partner Tommy (Stephen Graham) to buy one from some pikies (gypsies) with Gorgeous George along as a body guard. At the pikies camp we are introduced to One-Punch Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt) leader of the pikies who speaks in such a working class Irish-English dialect that you can barely understand him. In fact, you get the idea that subtitles would be nice. After cheating them on the caravan, Mickey challenges George to a match and downs him in one punch, crippling him one day before the match. Turkish persuades Bricktop to substitute Mickey on the condition that he goes down in the fourth, but feels he’s a hair’s breath from ending up as pig food. Needless to say, things do not go as planned.

Meanwhile, Franky Four Fingers is in London with the diamond. He is ratted out by his Russian robbery partner to Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedgia). Boris hires three black guys (one of which just got a crazed dog from the pikies as part of a deal) to rob Bricktop’s betting shop while at the same time getting Franky’s briefcase containing the diamond. Needless to say, things to not go as planned. When Franky turns up missing, his cousin Avi from New York (Dennis Farina) goes to London to find him. “Fish, chips, cup o' tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary-fucking-Poppins London!” He hires Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) to find him. Things do not go as planned.

As you can see this is a multi-plot film filled with a variety of interesting lower-class British characters that is filled with crosses, double-crosses and multiple crosses that becomes a gritty tournament to determine who will end up with the diamond and who will end up pig slop.

This film contains many colorful characters, quite a lot of sharp editing as well as numerous sight gags and at times nonlinear storytelling. The film takes off at break-neck speed and is constantly on the move with little chance for the action or dialog to slow down. No deadening lulls designed to eat up film time between action sequences set precisely every 16 minutes as are the norm in Hollywood films.

The film has basically two stars. The first is Vinnie Jones who also appeared in Lock as the enforcer who savagely and repeatedly slams a car door into a guys head. This is also how his character Bullet Tooth is introduced. Jones, once known as the ultimate bad boy of British professional football (mainly for his viciousness), plays this character with a bit more sophistication and depth than his previous performance.

The second is Brad Pitt who in my books has finally ditched the my earlier label of being just another ‘pretty-boy’ actor. I detest pretty-boy actors, like Leonardo Dicaprio. They deserve a savage death, like being devoured alive by rabid rottweilers. However, after his performances as a psycho in 12 Monkeys and Kalifornia, The Mexican and the great performance as Tyler Durden in 1999's Fight Club, his willingness to make himself look like unshaven dirty trailer trash that is physically unattractive makes him a legitimate actor. In this performance not only does he look like he hasn’t bathed in a while, he is covered with crude, blurred and undistinguishable tattoos, wears clothes that look like they’ve been looted from a Goodwill box and you can hardly understand a word he says. He plays Mickey as a con man who ends up one step ahead of everyone else by being smarter than they are. Great performance.

There are several great supporting performances. Dennis Farina, a well-known American character actor who usually plays mafioso or cops, delivers most of the great one-liners in the film as the hyper-stressed Jewish jeweler from New York who never seems to get a break. "For a country that spawned the English language, you think somebody'd be able to speak it." The second is Alan Ford as Bricktop. I have never seen such an elderly looking man portrayed with such viciousness. “Do you know what ‘nemesis’ means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this instance by an 'orrible cunt... me!” He looks like a caricature, even down to his bad looking British teeth. Both great performances.

As in his first film, Richie makes effective use of the soundtrack of old songs to establish the scene. Additionally, the film is filled with unconventional humor, such as the dog who swallows the squeak toy and spends the rest of the movie squeak barking and making everyone else’s life hell, the Russian who possesses the Rasputin-like ability to survive repeated lethal attacks, the antics of the dog and the general ineptness of virtually the entire cast. You can’t help but laugh out loud through the entire film.

This is not a perfect film and it might be a bit light in the storyline but that does not delineate from its fact that its better than 99% of the crap that comes out of Hollywood, especially crime caper films such as Gone in Sixty Seconds (also starring Vinnie Jones). With nearly twenty main characters, Richie manages to produce a coherent and entertaining film. This is a great accomplishment, especially in terms of the dog.

I cannot advise highly enough for you to checkout the DVD release. It contains two disks filled with a great amount additional material for your enjoyment, including a commentary by director Richie and producer Matthew Vaughn that is hilarious, including arguments over shots and edits, constantly calling Del Toro Brad Pitt, and hysterical stories about how the dog raped and ate half the cast and crew. One of the best commentaries I've seen on DVD since Chicken Run. There are also deleted scenes (including showing the dog raping and eating members of the cast), trailers and photos. Great stuff.

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