Friday, September 05, 2008

Guy Ritchie retrospective - SNATCH

SNATCH follows the exact-same formula as LOCK, STOCK except that this time, the world of underground gambling and narcotics has been replaced with diamond-smuggling and under-ground boxing. The visual style is similar - flashy editing, video-game manipulation of action and the all-knowing mockney voice-over, this time from our protagonist Turkish (Jason Statham). To that extent, SNATCH is doomed to be less satisfying than LOCK, STOCK because it's less of a surprise.

On the other hand, I do really like SNATCH because it's even less compromising than LOCK, STOCK. Accents are thicker, and in the case of Brad Pitt's charver, deliberately impenetrable. The violence is harsher - including an arson attack and a particularly nasty form of dispatching errant crooks. The humour is darker, the double-crossing is nastier, the sets are grimier and the language is filthier. Despite the Tarantino-like comedy anecdotes, Alan Ford is genuinely menacing as the evil gangster Brick Top, and unlike LOCK, STOCK, there are several scenes of genuine peril. The most memorable of these is a scene where footage of hare-coursing is inter-cut with footage of a small-time burglar getting nabbed by Brick-top's men. It's outstandingly well put-together. Similarly, the boxing scenes are really well shot, even if they take heavy inspiration from RAGING BULL.

My over-riding feeling after watching SNATCH was that this was a holding picture. Ritchie was still in his comfort zone regarding characters and settings but had become a lot more accomplished technically. He was set up nicely for a third film. That was until he took a left-turn into Kabbalah and up himself with SWEPT AWAY and

SNATCH was released in 2000 and is available on DVD.

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