A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Snatch.

February 9, 2011

Snatch.

Back before he made the thoroughly and unexpectedly enjoyable big budget Sherlock Holmes action movie Guy Ritchie was known for two things. Making the forgettable Swept Away with his wife Madonna and breaking into instant superstardom with a pair of gritty, humorous, and heavily accented movies about British gangsters. We don’t own Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, but we do own the spiritual sequel Snatch. True, this movie doesn’t have any characters in common with the other, but they share much, from the colorful and dangerous world they take place in to the strange synchronicities that characterise their plots. Both of them are stylish, cleverly made movies about horrible things happening to horrible people with a few innocents and affable screw-ups caught in the crossfire.

It would be difficult to summarise the plot here without just going scene by scene through the entire movie. It’s a fast paced heist film with two main story lines that somewhat overlap and come together at the end in a madcap collision full of brutality. Plot A is that of our narrator Turkish, who is a struggling boxing promoter trying to make an honest living in a dangerous world full of seedy gangsters. He and his brother Tommy are trying to organise a fight for their up and coming star when an unpredictable and incomprehensible Gypsy named Micky puts their fighter in the hospital. This gets them into trouble with Brick Top, the ruthless gangster who is backing (and rigging) the fight.

The other plot in the movie follows a stolen 86 carat diamond. It is stolen by a Ukrainian mobster who brings it to London to fence it. He is set up by his compatriots who hire a Russian arms dealer to get it from him (without causing an incident if possible.) The Russian in turn hires a pair of eager but clueless pawn shop owners (and their friend the getaway driver) to steal the case with the diamond but make it look like a simple holdup of a bookie. (They’re the comic relief.) The bookie works for the above mentioned Brick Top, so he and his goons get mixed up with things as well. And there’s the American buyer for the diamond who has come to London to find out what happened to the man who was trying to fence it. So that’s three ruthless, psychopathic mobsters – and the comic relief – all trying to get the diamond. Suffice to say that it gets messy.

This movie has a dark sense of humor. Actually, that’s not going far enough – it has a pitch black sense of humor. I grinned at some parts of it (like the unflappable woman in the bookie’s office) and I laughed out loud at others (such as the totally unkillable Russian Boris.) I felt a little guilty sometimes because what I was laughing at was so horrible, but I laughed all the same, because this movie is actually really funny. From Brad Pitt’s completely incomprehensible accent (apparently he created his own dialect for the movie and even other characters cannot understand what he is saying half the time) to the bumbling trio of would be thieves to the squeaking dog (it swallows a chew toy) there are running gags littered throughout the film.

It’s also a movie full of steely eyed brutal murderers who don’t even blink at the thought of killing people who inconvenience them. Things continually go bad for our hapless heroes Tommy and Turkish and there is a real sense of danger, because at any moment they could be killed in any number of gruesome ways. There’s a sense of tension which makes it easier to laugh at the gallows humor – because it’s such a relief to see some of the nefarious murderers in the movie getting theirs. All three of the main killers in the movie (Brick Top, “Bullet Tooth” Tony and Boris) have a sense of real menace to them. Killing, for them, is just a part of doing business, and each gets at least one moment in the film where they get to demonstrate unequivocally that they are not to be messed with.

The performances are what sells the movie. I bought it for Brad Pitt as Mickey. I love both his character (who steadfastly refuses to back down from or lose a fight,) and his completely crazy accent. But everybody here seems to be having a great time as well. In particular I loved Alan Ford as the sinister Brick Top. He’s the driving force in much of the movie and his angry sneer, giant askew glasses and quiet ruthlessness completely sells the character. For the movie to work you have to buy the fact that pretty much everybody in this slimy underworld wets their pants when Brick Top walks into the room, and Ford is really able to sell that notion. Then there’s Rade Serbedziga as Boris. He’s completely unhinged and insane and he steals every scene he’s in. His character’s off screen death (if, indeed, he actually does die) was one of the bits in the film that actually made me laugh out loud. Jason Statham is an actor I associate with guilty pleasure action films, so it’s fun to see him in a role where he almost never goes on a rampage and never once gets in a car chase.

This is not a nice movie. It has a lot of nasty characters and takes place in a world I wouldn’t particularly want to visit. It is funny, though, in its own way. It is directed with style and flash. And in the end most of the bad guys get what’s coming to them and most of the good guys do too. I’m tempted to buy Lock, Stock as well so we can review that, but really you could just change the character names from this review, so maybe I won’t.

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February 9, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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