One of the most successful British film of 1998 was
  
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, a razzmatazz mixture
  of modern-day gangsters, guns, drug dealers, crosses and double-crosses
  that also combined wit and humor with mayhem. At the helm was Guy
  Ritchie, a scion of wealth who cultivated the airs of a working-class bloke.
  Ritchie who both wrote and directed Lock, Stock exhibited a flair for
  stylish movie making that unfortunately didn't quite translate at the
  American box-office when the film was released in March 1999. (Part
  of the problem allegedly was the thick Cockney accents and slang
  that was unfamiliar to those on this side of the pond.) In my
  estimation,
LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS ranked as
  one of the best films of 1999 and heralded the arrival of an inventive
  and original voice. So I approached Ritchie's follow-up
SNATCH with
  high hopes. Of course, by the time his second feature was released,
  Ritchie's profile in the USA had been raised more for his association
  with Madonna than for his talent. Their on-again, off-again relationship
  was chronicled in the tabloids as was the subsequent birth of their
  son Rocco and later, their wedding in Scotland. If no one was aware
  of Ritchie when his first film opened, certainly by the time of the
  release of
SNATCH, many more people would know his name at least.

          If an audience heads to Snatch expecting to see new ground
  broken by the writer-director, well, they will be disappointed. Ritchie
  has taken the elements that made his previous effort so much fun
  and recycled them into another gangster story, this time cast with a
  few more recognizable faces to American audiences. Similarly,
SNATCH
    
weaves together several disparate story lines, in this case, primarily
  a "fixed" boxing match, the heist of a flawless 86-carat diamond, and
  a band of roving Irish gypsies. Ritchie utilizes his now patented
  approach of freeze frames, sped up action, jokey slang and oddball
  names (i.e., Boris the Blade, Franky Four Fingers, Turkish, Doug
  the Head, etc.). Once again the writer-director also employs a very
  cheeky sense of humor that is at odds with the violent men (Ritchie's
  universe is peopled almost entirely by men), portrayed.

          While the members of the large cast (which includes established
  actors and non-professionals) acquit themselves fairly well, there are
  a few standouts. Brad Pitt continues to appear on screen in roles
  that downplay his golden boy looks, here portraying a fast-talking
  Irish "traveller" who happens to be a bare-knuckle fighting champ.
  Pitt is quite good, bringing a saucy demeanor to the part, even
  when half his dialogue is completely incomprehensible. Jason
  Statham is fine in what is more or less the leading role (his
  character narrates part of the film), a low-level hustler with
  aspirations of playing in the big leagues. Benicio Del Toro
  dominates his scenes as a hood and Dennis Farina is quite funny
  as an American-based gangster who wants to own the multi-carat
  diamond. Former soccer star Vinnie Jones demonstrates a winning
  charisma as a hit man while Alan Ford nearly steals the film as a
  sadistic crime boss.

          Obviously Ritchie and his producers decided on the old "if it
  ain't broke, don't fix it" theme when they decided to make
SNATCH,
  since it has the same flavor and style of his debut. While I am slightly
  disappointed that this obviously talented filmmaker hasn't decided
  to stretch his talents, I can appreciate what he has accomplished.
   SNATCH zips along at a fast pace and there are numerous laughs
  to be had mixed in with the mostly off-screen violence. The hellzapoppin'
  camera work of Tim Maurice-Jones and the excellent editing of
  Jon Harris require special mention as well; without their contributions,
  the film would not succeed as well as it does.



                  
Rating:                B
                  
MPAA Rating:        R for strong violence, language
                                                    and some nudity
                  
Running time:      102 mins.
Snatch
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.