Intertwining stories about a mob plot, a diamond heist and a bare-knuckle boxing contest.
Guy Ritchie is Quentin Tarantino. Young, visionary writer-director makes big splash with debut feature: a cheap, stylised crime caper that meshes snappy dialogue with excessive gun-play and a hip soundtrack. But what did Tarantino do after Reservoir Dogs? Did he greedily oversee a spin-off TV series that subtracted from the magic of his own film? No. And for the all-important follow-up, did he remake Reservoir Dogs? No. But that, in effect, is what Ritchie has done with Snatch. This should have been - but isn’t - his Pulp Fiction.
Those who remain unmoved by Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels usually write off its creator as all style, no soul. These people are mad - it is a magnificent piece of entertainment, and the legion of pale Brit-flick imitators that have come in its wake only serve to highlight its unique swagger. Ritchie is stylised: as a director he’s unsurprisingly prone to every pop-video camera trick in the box, and as a writer he’s almost pantomime. In terms of this heavily-stamped trademark style, Snatch is identical to Lock, Stock. Fair enough. But it’s also identical in terms of plot, structure, subject, pace and setting. Four of the cast recur - Statham, Jones, Ford and, in cameo, Jason Flemyng - yet Ritchie has taken care to cast them in new roles. Why bother? Snatch would have been a more honest not-sequel if it had been the further adventures of Big Chris. Instead, Jones does the same scene-stealing schtick under a new name - including some self-referential door-slamming. Who are they trying to kid?
Sure, Ritchie’s added Yardies, Jews, Americans and Gypsies to the pan-criminal mix, replaced cards with boxing and antique rifles with a diamond, but it’s more like a remix than a remake, with Yanks Dennis Farina and Benicio Del Toro thrown in for cross-pond appeal.
That said, if you liked Lock, Stock, you’ll like this. The turns are superb (and their uniformity is a credit to Ritchie’s “happy family” style of film-making); Statham makes an engaging lead; Alan Ford (who narrated Lock, Stock so perfectly) is Long Good Friday threatening and gets the script’s best “caant!”; while Pitt pitches his indecipherable “pikey” just right, drawing on the physicality of Fight Club, the insanity of Twelve Monkeys and the dodgy accent of The Devil's Own. Plus, it’s a treat to see EastEnders’ Mike Reid off the Square, and Vinnie, of course, has become a draw in his own right.
So even though Snatch is almost actionably similar to Lock, Stock, for many that will be its selling point.
Treading much of the same territory of Lock Stock...this will appeal to fans of Ritchie's debut after more of the same.