Tuesday, December 10, 2019

#23- D'ya Like Dags?

Snatch (2000) 

Four Rabbis walk into a diamond merchant. No, this isn't the setup to a joke. It's the opening moments of Guy Ritchie's 2000 ensemble gangster masterpiece, Snatch, and this movie is no laughing matter. The film is shot out of a fucking canon and never slows down for a minute. It's loud, it's brutish, it's fast, and it just might be one of the greatest crime movies of all time.

The film follows a rogue's gallery,  brilliantly introduced in an opening credits sequence, and several different story lines that all center around an 86-Karat diamond. The way Richie interweaves multiple narratives into one another is wholly unique and imaginative. It makes the movie such an enjoyable ride. If you've ever seen his first film then you're familiar with the style. It helps that he has put together a band of actors that would rival any big budget comic book movie.

Narrating and carrying most of the weight is Turkish, a boxing promoter, played by Jason Statham in only his second role ever, the first being Ritchie's directorial debut Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and he's just amazing. For someone who had only been in two movies up to that point, he really does shine. It was obvious that this man was going to be a star. Guy Ritchie really takes advantage of his rugged British personality and stiff upper lip attitude. Playing him as an everyman that is just in over his head. His narration is engrossing and you can't wait to be introduced to the next player in the story. As he becomes deeper and deeper embroiled in this world of crime he's stumbled into,  you really hope he'll escape a vicious end.

But it's Pitt's portrayal of a gypsy bare knuckle boxing champion that really steals the show here, and doesn't' he just always? His half Irish/chav nomadic shyster, known in the film as a "Pikey" is barely intelligible (You'll most likely benefit from having the subtitles turned on) and still manages to absolutely own evert scene he's in. The physical performance he gives is also top-notch, as cut as he's ever been, and operating at what seems like 3% body fat. The boxing in the film is authentic and believable, thanks in large part to Pitt's dedication to the art. He's funny and brutal and he loves his mom dearly. He's truly one of my favorite characters in a any movie, ever.

Alan Ford plays the antagonist in the film, he is absolutely terrifying as a savage and ruthless gangster named "Brick Top". Whether he is describing how to feed someone to pigs or doling out brutal punishment on those that crossed him, your skin will crawl when he's on screen. He's a fantastically evil villian that somehow makes all the other abhorrent criminals and gangsters in the film,  of which there are many, seem tame in comparison. A true nemesis.

True story: Growing up my mom had a boyfriend who looked just like Brick Top. 

The ensemble cast is too big to list but some standouts are Vinnie Jones playing "Bullet Tooth" Tony and the late and so great Dennis Farina playing "Avi".  Jones was literally pulled out of a British Pub while watching a football game. His aesthetic is just so genuine. You believe he could be ensnared in this tale because he honestly looks and feels like he's lived it before. He has a monologue near the end of the film that is just stellar and really showcases what he's capable of. And Farina, well if you've ever seen him in anything before you know what you're getting, but trust me, that's a great thing. He's been established as a loud, aggressive, boss type and boy when the shoe fits so perfectly, you just have to wear it. His presence in this type of movie will be sorely missed.

As the movie unfolds and all of the many stories begin their inevitable collision with one another, you really start to admire the creative and clever script that Ritchie has crafted. It's inventive and really comes together in a coherent manner. It all leads up to an absolutely explosive climax that is every bit as loud and chaotic as the two hours that has preceded it.

Ritchie really has a style to him, he really was, for a moment anyway, the coolest director working. The one-two punch of Snatch and Lock Stock is a all-time combo, and the two would make an amazing double feature on any night of the week. Quick shout out to producer Matthew Vaughn who has gone off to have quite the successful career himself. Crime movies don't really get much better than Snatch and if you haven't seen this gem from 2000, do yourself a favor and get to know some gangsters for a couple hours. Just remember to leave the captions on.

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