Snatch (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is the new film from Mr Guy Madonna (nee Guy Ritchie), the guy who directed the then-fresh "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".

"Snatch" is a good movie, which I can prove with unassailable logic through the following syllogism:

  • "Lock, Stock ..." was a good movie.
  • "Snatch" is the same movie.
  • Therefore, it must also be good.

This film really should be called "Lock, Stock and Two More Smoking Barrels", for handy identification

Oh, they did change a couple of details to see if you are paying attention. Instead of gambling on cards, they are gambling on illegal boxing. Instead of stealing an antique firearm back and forth, it is a diamond. But it's the same movie, much of the same cast, all the same stylistic devices, all the same camera angles, much of the same violence.


there are a few topless b-girls in the background of one scene
There are some new jokes, which is good, because it's a comedy/drama, and people will notice if you don't change the jokes.

The first ten minutes are great, every bit as hip and funny as you'd want to feed your Tarantino-addicted brain. Four guys hold up an Antwerp diamond exchange while disguised as Hasidic Jews. Hilarious dialogue, over-the-top premise. After that, each of the main characters is introduced with a posterized freeze-frame complete with name and graphics, in the manner of a boxing poster. Outstanding sequences that led me to think I could sit back and enjoy a work of brilliance.

Well, I did, kind of, except that I'd already seen it before, or at least something very similar.

It is interesting to me that Ritchie and Tarantino, the kings of the pulp genre, have a very special world that they inhabit and reproduce for us. They never draw any references from the real world. They never draw any references from books. It's as if the entire past of the human race includes only what has been on the screen - that forms all of our history, all of our present, all of our basis of reference. And when they do need an outside source, they never turn to literature or reality, but only to comics and pulp stories. It's a fascinating and self-referential world those boys live in. It seems like the world that I used to inhabit when I was a boy. Before I ever met any real wiseguys, my whole concept was based on movies and TV. Before I ever got laid and talked at length to women, I had this distorted concept of what women were like, as if they were just props in a special boy-world, to be called in from offstage when needed, only to be dismissed when there was anything fun or important to do, or some good dirty jokes to tell, or a good game on TV. When I grew up that view of the world went away, and I can just barely remember what it was like. Until guys like Guy Ritchie and Tarantino come along to remind me.

You'd think Ritchie would change some now that he's married, but remember his wife is Madonna, and that unusual fact may allow him to stay in his make-believe world forever. I don't know, but I suspect that living a sheltered and privileged life with Madonna is not going to make his work any more reality-based.

All kidding aside, I caution Americans that the dialects make this almost a foreign-language film, but since it is in English, it comes with no subtitles. the accents make the already labyrinthine plot almost completely indecipherable. Take no comfort in the presence of Brad Pitt and Benicio del Toro. They are the least comprehensible of all. Pitt plays a guy that even the other guys in the movie can't understand. The intersection of the multiple plots is deliberately complicated, so the movie is hard enough to follow, but they also made a couple of continuity errors in following the trail of the diamond. Between the complexity, the errors, and the accents, the whole thing is virtually incomprehensible. Of course, this isn't meant to be one of those "Topkapi" caper films. The plot isn't the point of this kind of movie, but a mere backdrop, so you can enjoy the atmosphere and humor without completely following the action, and when you lose it, you'll find your way back in.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1. 

  • full-length commentary by the director 

  • several deleted scenes, trailers, storyboards, and a featurette

If the dialects don't scare you off, and if you haven't seen "Lock, Stock", and you like the pulp fiction film genre in general, you should like this, because it's good, it's wild, it's funny, and it'll be fresh to you.

If you saw "Lock, Stock", and would like to see more of the same, here you are.

If you saw "Lock, Stock" and hated it, or if you don't enjoy a jolly Tarantine, I suggest you head down to Blockbuster and get a different film. Hint: nobody ever checks out "Agnes of God".

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Berardinelli 3/4, Ebert 2/4, Apollo 76/100

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 67% positive overall, and 75% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it a very impressive 8.1, #142 of all time. Apollo users agree, with 85/100
  • With their dollars ... it was a solid hit in the UK, with about 18 million dollars box office. Not as popular in the USA, it still finished over $30 million. 
My guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Hip film, but no attempt at crossover appeal. It isn't going to come to you. You have to be hip enough to dig it.

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