For the benefit of those who have been wandering around Rush Rhees Library?s stacks for the last two years, Guy Ritchie is a young, talented British director. His first successful movie is called ?Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.? His new film is called ?Snatch.?

?Snatch? not only brings back some of the ?Lock, Stock? cast (Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham), but uses similar colors, narrative, photography, character-stereotypes and plot. It?s not a sequel to ?Lock, Stock,? by the strictest definition. Instead,the two films have interchangeable characters that inhabit the same world.

None of this seeming creative stagnancy, however, is a bad thing. After all, we don?t actually expect Ritchie to suddenly grow into a mature filmmaker who tackles serious subjects.

Ritchie is sometimes compared to Quentin Tarantino, but unlike most directors who attempt to capture the essence of ?Pulp Fiction? and ?Reservoir Dogs,? Ritchie explores the criminal world in a manner that feels more like a bird?s eye view of it. He focuses on the overall meaning, rather than on specific, engaging individuals.

Although the territory of ?Snatch? is more than a little familiar to fans of ?Lock, Stock,? it feels pleasantly accustomed, rather than annoyingly redundant. One major new ingredient thrown into this mix was the addition of a Hollywood star ? Brad Pitt.

Although an established, multi-million-dollar name, Pitt often takes roles that seem uncomfortable and decidedly not middle-of-the-road. This tendency is embodied in his portrayal of Mickey, an Irish-gypsy bare-knuckle fighter whose speech is indecipherable even by the rudeboy-protagonists, the unsuccessful boxing promoters in ?Snatch.?

Which brings me to the next and least important point, the plot and its characters. The movie opens with robbers, disguised as orthodox Jews, stealing a fist-sized diamond. The diamond is placed in a briefcase handcuffed to the wrist of Frankie-Four-Fingers (Benicio Del Toro). A Russian Mafioso called Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia) hires thieves to retrieve the diamond from Mr. Four-Fingers. Hilarity ensues. In the meantime, two sketchy boxing promoters become indebted to an even sketchier boxing promoter and are pressed to quickly produce a fighter who is credible as a challenger, yet willing to take a dive.

Enter Mickey O?Neil (Pitt). Pigs eat dead bodies, a dog squeaks incessantly, the line, ?bust a cap in his arse? is said with a heavy English accent. But above all, hilarity ensues.

It?s not worth repeating that ?Snatch? is an exercise in style. That knowledge permeates all facets of the picture, including the acting, which ranges from the flighty, mock seriousness of Statham to the overt, plot-driven sluggishness of Ade.

Jones apparently did not learn how to act in the last two years, which is acceptable, since no depth is required from him as Bullet-Tooth Tony. More importantly, Jones? jaw is still square and his eyebrows grave and imposing. To quote one of my English friends, ?He looks damn Cockney.?

One scene involving Jones shows him taking six rounds to the body. With a mouthful of blood slurring his speech, he takes out a rapier and says the memorable line, ?Now you are in trouble,? to his assailant.

We believe it.

The bottom line is that ?Snatch? is a very funny movie. So what if it will require five viewings to comprehend the 87 major points of the plot? Snatch is a fun, entertaining flick, with performances that are enjoyable, if shallow.



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