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Weekly Classics: Snatch

Updated July 12, 2013

Look at the title. What did you think of when you read that for the first time? I dislike the concept of blurbs and for years I didn’t watch this movie because I thought it would be some ode to Madonna’s lady parts. It may still be that, but I don’t have the capacity to undertake a reading quite so intimate (or deranged). According to the Oxford English dictionary, Snatch means a ‘short amount of time’, ‘the act of snatching’, ‘a kidnapping’ and of course, the holiest of holies. Despite being a drastically popular film with a renowned cast, the project is somewhat deemed as a cult favourite.

The film starts with Turkish’s (Jason Statham) voice introducing his character in the movie, that of his partner (no homo) Tommy (Stephen Graham) and the conundrum of diamonds. ‘Don’t they come from Antwerp?’

The audience then takes on the eyes and ears of CCTV cameras and follows a group of Hasidic Jews walk into a building. They are discussing the fascination towards the surreal conception of Christ which is a blatant reference to the breakfast table discussion in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. This discussion delightfully unravels itself into a heavily armed, super loud jewel heist in which Frankie ‘Four Fingers’ (Benicio del Toro) nabs an 86 carat diamond. His market in New York, Cousin Avi (Dennis Farina) advises him to go see Doug ‘The Head’ (Mike Reid) in London. One of Frankie’s fellow robbers asks him to give over his gun to him and suggests he acquire a new one whilst in London by going to see Boris ‘The Blade’ (Rade Serbedzija). Unbeknownst to Frankie, Boris the blade and this suggestive thief are actually brothers who wish to relieve him of his very precious New York bound cargo. Due to an infamous weakness towards gambling, he has unwittingly been detoured in the direction of a fixed boxing match.

This is where Brick Top (Alan Ford) is introduced to us, notorious, as a man whose debt you do not want to be in and for using farm animals as tool to make bodies disappear. Turkish and Tommy approach him to try and convince him to let one of their men fight in the fixed boxing match which Brick Top agrees to. Another thing on Turkish’s agenda is to get a new caravan and for some bizarre reason, the reasonable thing to do is to purchase it from a gypsy named Mickey O’ Neil. Tommy and ginormous Gorgeous George (Adam Fogerty) are sent to trek down to their campsite and do the best they can to not get ripped off. Their proprietor happens to be Brad Pitt and there’s a reason you can’t understand a word he’s saying in his weird cockamamie leprechaun accent. It’s not gibberish; it’s the result of insulting an artist. For Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, several people criticised Guy Ritchie for the incomprehensible accents of his characters, so for Snatch he gave you a beautiful face but now neither the audience nor the characters in the film can understand a word that comes out of it.

Being Gypsies, their reputation for being crooked and ruthless precedes them therefore, it is really no surprise that when smiling Tommy is riding away with his beautiful new caravan, its wheels don’t quite fall off, they were not attached to the mobile home in the first place. The entire contraption was just balanced on wheels but Mickey insists that ‘The deal was you bought it like you saw it. Hey, look, I've helped you as much as I'm going to help you. See that car? Just use it for you're not welcome anymore. You should f^@* off now while you still got the legs to carry you.’ But you won’t know he’s saying that unless you watch the film several times … or have subtitles. This seems to insult George and after one thing leads to another and Mickey magnanimously declares that he ‘ain’t f^@*%( you. [He’ll] fight you for it.’ Him being half the size of Gorgeous, Tommy readily accepts as this guarantees that they get their caravan money back. In the barn though, the story is slightly different, yes Brad Pitt is still minuscule in comparison to the incarnation of the Hulk as well as being, thankfully, shirtless, he is far too confident for someone about to get creamed. After taking a beating, Mickey turns into David and George into Goliath and we all know how that story goes, it takes one punch to knock him out. So it is revealed that the sneaky gypsy is actually a bare-knuckle boxing champion.

With Gorgeous George being the furthest thing from ready to box, Boris the Blade waiting for Frankie and his diamond at the bookies to bet on the fixed boxing match, Brick Top out of a boxer for the match that he has fixed, all signs are deliciously, pointing to carnage.

This is an ensemble cast film, where almost every character is given as much priority and screen time as the other. This works out really well because it’s a film based on the crime scene in London, being the crime world, there can be no real protagonist. Everyone is essentially a crook and the whole idea behind choosing such a mean looking cast is to emphasise on the authenticity of their situation. The amalgamation of nationalities and accents, the kinetic editing and direction of the movie adds splendidly to the energy. Written by Guy Ritchie the dialogue will be tattooed across your speech, or at least you’ll want it to be. Yes, it is rated R but almost all the deaths happen off screen. And there are about thirty casualties. Unlike Hitchcock though, the violence is not suggested or placebo’ed in your mind. It is just carried out with such nonchalance and humour that you won’t really notice that when Brick Top is discussing the boxing match with Turkish, he is really feeding bits of colleague to his pet pigs.

You should watch this film because if you don’t, people will rightfully judge you for it. But in all seriousness, Guy Ritchie’s films are entertaining, fast paced and wonderfully witty. So if I haven’t managed to convince you to indulge in some enticing London underground, then just watch the film to make conversation more entertaining. You can start on this enlightening journey by clicking here.