You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.
If blatantly stealing from someone else is called plagiarism, what do you call it when you steal from yourself (I'm sure there are some colorful phrases I could coin, but I won't)? But an even bigger question is that if it can work for pop star Britney Spears, why can't it work for director Guy Ritchie? That is the question posed upon viewing "Snatch", the latest offering from the same director who made a splash two years ago with the cult crime-comedy "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels".
It's me belt, Turkish.
No, Tommy. There'a a gun in your trousers. What's a gun doing in your trousers?
It's for protection.
Protection from what? 'Zee Germans'?
Like the 1998 film, "Snatch" is composed of a series of separate stories ties together by an 84 karat diamond. The main through-line revolves around Turkish (Jason Statham, who also appeared in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels"), a boxing promoter, and his gun-obsessed sidekick Tommy (Stephen Graham, another esteemed alumnus from the first film), and their futile attempts to buy a new trailer to house their business. However, the purchase of a used trailer from a group of gypsies winds up placing the unintelligible bare-knuckle boxer Mickey O'Neil (Brad Pitt of "Fight Club") as Turkish's fighter in an upcoming match. Unfortunately, crime kingpin Brick Top (Alan Ford, another Ritchie alumnus), who has a penchant for disposing bodies by feeding them to pigs, wants Turkish to throw the fight in the fourth round. The only problem is that they don't call him Mickey 'One Punch' O'Neil for nothing, and pretty soon Turkish and Tommy are deeply in debt to Brick Top.
Meanwhile, an 84 karat diamond is stolen in Antwerp and smuggled to London by Yiddish jewel thief Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro, seen recently in "Traffic"), who hopes to sell it to unscrupulous New York jeweler Avi (Dennis Farina of "Reindeer Games") through middleman Doug the Head (Mike Reid of "Eastenders" fame). However, ex-KGB agent Boris the Blade (Rade Serbedzija of "Mission: Impossible 2") is also interested in the diamond, and he hires three idiotic thieves (Ade, Lennie James, and Robbie Gee) to get it for him. Of course, the plan goes awry, which compels Avi to fly to London, and bring in some big guns in the form of hatchet-man Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones, yet another Ritchie alumnus). Though the connection between these disparate stories isn't readily apparent, you can be assured that like "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", a series of zany coincidences will place these different parties onto a collision course, and the result will be far from pretty.
Do you have anything to declare, sir?
Yeah. Don't go to England!
Working with a bigger budget than his last film, Ritchie goes all out with "Snatch". The most noticeable aspect is the use of recognizable names in the cast to round out the returning players. Dennis Farina, who has made quite a career for himself in quirky crime-caper films such as this, is perfectly cast as a harried and unscrupulous jeweler who finds himself hopelessly out of his element on the streets of London. Meanwhile, Benicio Del Toro has a memorable, albeit short-lived, appearance as a master jewel thief, while Brad Pitt seems to be having too much fun as a boxer with terrible diction.
The production also goes into overdrive. Those who couldn't get enough of the hyperkinetic style of "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" will certainly enjoy the over-the-top ADD- and MTV-friendly camerawork and editing employed in "Snatch". Visual flourishes are in abundance here, starting with the unconventionally-shot 'heist scene' that bolts the frenzied story out of the gate. Placards introduce the characters in rapid-fire succession, Avi's cross-Atlantic trips are truncated into the staccato style of Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream"), a pivotal car accident is shown from multiple perspectives, Franky Four Finger's weakness for gambling is elaborated with some quick cut-scenes and the strains of "Viva Las Vegas", and so on-- watching a Guy Ritchie film is akin to Oliver Stone's 'multimedia' approach to filmmaking, only with a sense of purpose.
In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... come again?
Unfortunately, the biggest challenge of "Snatch" is that story-wise, it's more of the same. Whereas quirky characters in absurd situations might have been fresh in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", it's old hat in "Snatch", particularly since the plot follows essentially the same structure in this latest film (Ritchie probably developed a methodology for writing these sorts of films). The various story threads in "Snatch" also don't come together as tightly as they did in "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", and there is a definite lull in the proceedings as the film enters the third act and the story just about runs out of steam. But viewed in light of the comic gems and eye candy found throughout "Snatch", it is a pardonable offense.
What should I call you? Bullet? Tony?
You can call me Susan if it makes you happy.
Like Ritchie's 1998 effort, "Snatch" mines much of the same 'Coen-Brothers-meets-Quentin-Tarantino' territory, where incredibly stupid underworld lowlifes, bizarre circumstances, and coincidence combine to create all sorts of mischief and mayhem. This latest offering may feature a more recognizable name cast and more intelligible dialogue (at least where it's supposed to be intelligible), but it's essentially "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" all over again, only with a script that could have used some tightening up. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the earlier film left you drooling for more.