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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Snatch

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones
Director: Guy Ritchie
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: January 2001
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Suspense

*Also starring: Dennis Farina, Brad Pitt, Rade Serbedzija, Jason Statham, Mike Reid, Robbie Gee, Jason Flemyng, Ewen Bremner

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

I've heard said that young people don't give much of a fig for stories anymore. What they want to see on the screen is special effects along with their explosions and car crashes-- which accounts for box office takes for "The Cell," "Vertical Limit," and "Proof of Life." If they can't get special effects or explosions, then give the principal target audience lots of visuals, actions galore to keep their minds distracted from the fact that the movie has no plot worth thinking about. "Snatch," written and directed by Guy Ritchie--who gave us "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" but does not consider this a sequel--is mayhem posing as hip; motion aspiring to chic. While this bit of convuluted, disconnected mayhem may simply be the sort of thing I just don't "get," I suspect that "Snatch" is the picture that will be praised by people who are eager to patronize the lovers of story lines--the folks they consider plain too old-fashioned to go for postmodern gibberish.

While we may be tempted to think that the title is a double entendre, "Snatch" seems to refer exclusively to the aim of some London and NY underworld characters to seize an 83- carat diamond, but this is no "Topkapi" by a long shot. The diamond caper takes a backseat to some almost incomprehensible activities executed by a cast doing uninteresting things with the one exception of a pit bull which is instrumental to the yarn--and that dog doesn't even get a credit.

The commotion begins when a quartet of diamond bandits disguised as Hasidim including Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) rip off a wholesale jeweler to deliver the 83 carat diamond to Franky's employer, Avi (Dennis Farina). Franky, a compulsive gambler, bets with the Russian Boris The Blade (Rade Serbedjija) on an illegal boxing bout, unaware that he is being set up for a robbery at the hands of Vinny (Robbie Gee), Sol (Lennie James), and Tyrone (Ade). (Ade, the getaway driver, is so fat that he can barely get out of the getaway car...that's the level of humor you'll find in various parts of the movie.) Turkish (Jason Statham) hooks up with top criminal and pig farm owner (the pigs are used to eat bodies, thereby disposing of evidence) Brick Top (Alan Ford) to fix a fight, but Mikey O'Neil (Brad Pitt), an Irish gypsy who speaks an almost impenetrable language, refuses to take a fall and knocks out all opponents.

The one catchy visual in this picture can be missed if you blink and will remind cineastes of a similar run-through of sorts in "Requiem for a Dream." Avi, the only attractive and interesting human being in the movie, catches a Concorde to London: Ritchie shows the entire booking, the flight and the movement through British passport control in four seconds.

Though the violence is largely an illusion, instances of solid editing by Jon Harris, the suggestion is as brutal as that found in "Fight Club," including the mostly off-screen poking of a caged pit bull and the sending of a couple of killer dogs after a frightened rabbit for sport. The film is about a succession of double crosses, indicating that there really is no honesty among thieves and rascals, but to get back to my theory, I think the film will be used by the chic set to look down on fuddy-duddies who prefer movies to have a point.

Copyright 2001 Harvey Karten

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