It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
In my review of "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," Guy Ritchie's 1999 film, I wrote: "In a time when movies follow formulas like zombies, it's alive." So what am I to say of "Snatch," Ritchie's new film, which follows the "Lock, Stock" formula so slavishly it could be like a new arrangement of the same song? Once again we descend into a London underworld that has less to do with English criminals than with Dick Tracy. Once again the characters have Runyonesque names (Franky Four Fingers, Bullet Tooth Tony, Boris the Blade, Jack the All-Seeing Eye). Once again the plot is complicated to a degree that seems perverse. Once again titles and narration are used to identify characters and underline developments.
There is one addition of considerable wit: In the previous film, some of the accents were impenetrable to non-British audiences, so this time, in the spirit of fair play, Ritchie has added a character played by Brad Pitt, who speaks a gypsy dialect even the other characters in the movie can't understand. Pitt paradoxically has more success communicating in this mode than some of the others do with languages we allegedly understand. He sounds like a combination of Adam Sandler and Professor Backwards.
Ritchie is a zany, high-energy director. He isn't interested in crime, he's interested in voltage. As an unfolding event, "Snatch" is fun to watch, even if no reasonable person could hope to understand the plot in one viewing. Ritchie is almost winking at us that the plot doesn't matter, that it's a clothesline for his pyrotechnics (if indeed pyrotechnics can employ clotheslines, but don't get me started).
The plot assembles its lowlifes in interlocking stories involving crooked boxing, stolen diamonds and pigs. After Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) steals a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium, and returns to London, a Russian named Boris the Blade (Rade Sherbedgia) and an American gangster named Avi (Dennis Farina) try to separate him from it--not easy, since it is in a case handcuffed to his wrist.