Turkish. Franky Four Fingers. One Punch Mickey. Brick Top. Bullet Tooth Tony.
Put any one of these characters into a caper film, and you’ve got color. Toss all of them in (and more), and you’ve got a Guy Ritchie movie that screams “I’m offbeat and funny” from the opening scene. I’m not so sure that “Snatch” has as much in common with caper films as it does oddball comedies, because it really is all about the characters. Sure, there’s an 86-carat diamond involved, an attempt to rig a bare-knuckles fight, all kinds of shooting and plenty of double-crosses, but where “Pulp Fiction” put its finger on a few funny lines coming from a funny character’s mouth, “Snatch” offers the biggest, baddest-ass handful you can grab. That is, if you can understand these blasted Cockney accents.
So what do you do if an actor like Brad Pitt, who was a fan of Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998), approaches you and says he wants in, but he can’t get that London accent down? Well, if you’re Ritchie, you give him the part of One Punch Mickey, a gypsy whom NO ONE in the film can understand.
Apparently everybody wanted in, because Pitt is joined by a top-flight cast. Jason Statham plays Turkish, a freelance boxing promoter who narrates the story and whose hapless partner, Tommy (Stephen Graham), is as clueless as Turkish seems on top of things. Sort of. But the boys find themselves in a bind when they run into Brick Top (Alan Ford), a boxing promoter who wants them to stage and fix a bare-knuckles bout. So who do they recruit? The gypsy, of course. In the other main plot thread, a guy named Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) has his own problems. What starts off as a smooth heist with Franky and three others dressed like Hassidic Jews quickly turns into a complicated mess . . . especially when Franky and that stolen diamond turn up missing. Mobster Avi (Dennis Farina) hires infamous hit-man Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) to find them, and when you put two and two together–two plotlines, that is–it makes for a funny caper flick.
Curiously, it’s not the plot so much as the style that propels this film. A hip and funky soundtrack that’s light as a feather and stiff as a board, coupled with those comic characters, makes “Snatch” feel a little like a funny music video, especially with songs like “Super Moves” (Overseer), “Diamond” (Klint), “Hernando’s Hideaway” (The Johnston Brothers), “Golden Brown” (The Stranglers), “Ghost Town” (The Specials), “Dreadlock Holiday” (10CC), “Cross the Tracks (We Better Go Back)” (Maceo and the Macks), “Disco Science” (Mirwaïs), “Lucky Star” (Madonna), “Hot Pants (I’m Coming, I’m Coming, I’m Coming)” (Bobby Byrd), and “Fuckin’ in the Bushes” (Oasis).
But Ritchie’s odd and interesting camera angles are also a major contributing factor-and it’s not a matter of simple diagonals or up-angle shots. Ritchie seems to favor foreshortening and techniques that distort reality ever-so-slightly, so when you add that strong visual to a strong soundtrack and outrageous characters, the situations seem even more funky and stylized. It’s what you notice, really, when you’re watching the film, and what you’re left with after the credits have rolled and you’ve taken the Blu-ray out of your player.
All of the actors have fun with their roles, and if I had to condense “Snatch” into one word, it might be . . . impossible. That’s because it’s funny, it’s slick, it’s stylish, and it’s a bloody riot–pun intended.
Oh yeah, and then there’s this dog. . . .
“Snatch” may not go anywhere too startling or different, but the ride is fun. Severe angles. Mega-quick cuts. Cool-ass music. It’s pure Ritchie. And how coincidental is it that Universal is releasing “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” on Dec. 1, the same day as Sony is releasing this film?
The AVC/MPEG-4 transfer is a good one, with zero artifacts and plenty of detail-though the color palette is a little muted, so you won’t get the full monty of saturation. “Snatch” is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and skin tones are right-on, while black levels are okay but strong enough to pull detail out of the corners. There’s only the slightest bit of film grain, with most of that in the atmospheric background.
The featured audio is a rockin’ English, French, or Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1 that makes the cool music sound even cooler. It’s a crisp, energetic soundtrack that prioritizes dialogue without taking anything away from the music or the effects (of which there are plenty). An additional audio option is in Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Surprisingly, there’s not a lot here. A standard director/producer commentary track that covers all the usual suspects (and bases) is augmented by a half-dozen deleted scenes with optional commentary, none of which are all that memorable–even to the director, who says, at one point, “I don’t remember this scene, actually.”
A “making-of” feature is also pretty standard, as is the storyboard comparison and video photo gallery. The only unique bonus features are to be found in the Blu-ray exclusives, and even then, the movieIQ offers the kind of trivia track that could have been burned to a disc instead of linked to a website. But “The Snatch Cutting Room Floor” is another story. Wannabe film editors and directors can play around to create a video using clips and music from the movie. I told you it was all about style.
“Snatch” is an entertaining romp of a crime caper flick that wants to be funny more than it wants to be dangerous or mysterious. That’s okay by me, but the rest of you ought to know.