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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Snatch—SE (2001)

Customs Official: Do you have anything to declare, sir?
Avi: Yeah. Don't go to England.

- Uncredited, Dennis Farina

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer   
Published: July 31, 2001

Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia, Jason Statham
Other Stars: Alan Ford, Mike Reid, Robbie Gee, Lennie James, Ewen Bremner
Director: Guy Ritchie

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some nudity
Run Time: 01h:42m:36s
Release Date: July 03, 2001
UPC: 043396062535
Genre: gangster


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-A-A A

DVD Review

Now don't ask me why this is, but very often a director's second film is simply a rehash of his or her debut film, albeit with a bigger budget. Guy Ritchie's latest, Snatch, is a perfect example. Ritchie's 1998 debut, Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, was a stylish and humorous crime caper that became a surprise hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. It featured subtle wordplay, flashy directing, and thick Cockney accents. For Snatch, Ritchie kept the humor and the style, but lightened up on the dialects. The result is an entertaining movie that nevertheless shows Ritchie treading water.

An eighty-six karat diamond, roughly the size of a fist, is stolen from Antwerp by Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro), a gangster with a gambling problem. He's to bring the diamond to Avi Denovitz (Dennis Farina) in New York, but first he has to stop over in London to sell some smaller diamonds to Doug The Head (Mike Reid). Meanwhile, Boris The Blade (Rade Sherbedgia) sells Frankie a gun, and in return, Frankie has to place a bet on an illegal boxing match with the local bookies. Boris then hires two pawnshop brokers, Vinny (Robbie Gee), and Sol (Lenny James) to rob the bookies and get Frankie's briefcase, where the diamond is being kept. The boxing match that Frankie is betting on happens to be run by a local mobster called Brick Top (Alan Ford), who wants to use a fighter sponsored by Turkish (Jason Statham). When the fighter is hospitalized after fighting with a gypsy named Mickey (Brad Pitt), Turkish decides to use Mickey in the fight, drawing Brick Top's ire. Meanwhile, Frankie goes missing, so Avi decides to come to London to search for him, hiring Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones), an invincible thug, to find Frankie and the diamond. Did you catch all that?

Therein lies Snatch's biggest problem. The storyline is so complicated that it quickly becomes absurd and contrived. While this does allow Ritchie to create some exciting scenes revolving around several different characters (one sequence featuring several cars is particularly impressive), it is enough to turn some people off. While some of the events in Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels seemed off the wall, they were mostly believable. Snatch is so over the top that even in the most exciting parts, the audience can't truly get into it, because they're thinking about how impossible the events on the screen are. What's more, Snatch doesn't say anything that Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels didn't say better. Guy Ritchie is a talented writer and director, so I hope he moves on to fresher material instead of running in place for his next feature.

Despite the fact that Snatch is disappointing, it's still entertaining to a degree. Ritchie has an intense wit that pervades every line of dialogue he writes, and his sense of style is finely honed (although at times I did feel like the style was covering up for a lack of substance). The actors really make it all work; their deliveries of Ritchie's dialogue create almost all of the humor. While all of the actors shine, I think that Dennis Farina and Vinnie Jones actually steal the show. In fact, Farina and Jones are so good that I would have preferred to see a movie based around their individual characters without need of of the other actors in the ensemble.

That isn't to say the others are bad. Benicio Del Toro is understated as Frankie Four Fingers, Jason Statham is hilarious as the narrator, Alan Ford is deliciously over the top as Brick Top, and Brad Pitt is completely unintelligible as Mickey (but that's the point). In fact, all of the actors are so enjoyable to watch that the ensemble nature of the piece means we never get to see as much of a particular actor as we would like. This just goes back to my idea of Ritchie's reach exceeding his writing grasp. You don't make instantly memorable characters and then give them only a few minutes of screen time.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: This transfer admirably handles Ritchie's madcap directing style. Heavy action sequences and quick cuts flash by without so much as one transfer artifact. Colors are solid, blacks are deep, and even in the darker scenes it's easy to see. While it is slightly grainy, I'm certain that the grain was due to the film stock used, not through any fault of the picture. A few scratches and nicks do pop up from time to time, but they're not too terribly distracting or plentiful. We also have a cropped pan-and-scan version, of similar technical quality.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Snatch comes with a pretty good 5.1 mix. With plenty of directional effects and a good helping of gun noises and car crashes, the mix is very pleasing to listen to. While the rears aren't always as active as I would like, they do get quite a bit of work out throughout. Overall this is one of the better mixes I've heard. A job well done.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Pikey/Come Again? with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Go, Dogma, The Professional, The Lady From Shanghai, Dr. Strangelove, John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
3 TV Spots/Teasers
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: Unknown

Extra Extras:
  1. Video Photo Gallery
  2. Stealing Stones
  3. Booklet Insert
Extras Review: They call this a special edition, and they mean it!

Commentary
The first disc has commentary with director Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn. Most of the track is spent with Ritchie and Vaughn ribbing each other with in-jokes, which they then have to explain to the listener. As it turns out, their in-jokes aren't really so funny. Sometimes Ritchie does throw out little nuggets of information that actually pertain to the movie. I was disappointed with this track, since it's obvious that Ritchie is a talented director who could have told us some interesting production techniques. Alas, those were few and far between.

Stealing Stones
This is an interesting feature. With this feature turned on, you watch the movie. Every so often, a diamond appears in the upper right corner. If you click enter, you get shown a deleted scene that would have come after the scene with the diamond in it. However, all of these scenes and more appear on the second disc in the deleted scenes section, and since they don't use seamless branching to include the deleted scenes, using this feature is a somewhat intrusive way to watch the movie.

Pikey/Come Again? Subtitles
In the film, Brad Pitt's character, Mickey, speaks with an accent difficult to decipher. Called "pikey" (British slang for "gypsy"), the point of it is that gypsies speak that way in order to get a better deal out of those they do business with. The accent is also an answer to those critics who had a hard time understanding the dialogue of Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels. Realizing just how hard it is to understand Mickey, Ritchie gave us subtitles for all of his dialogue. These subtitles only come up when Mickey is speaking, and it's fun to try to decipher his accent yourself and then turn on the subtitles to see how close you were to what he actually said.

Making Snatch
This documentary, just under twenty-five minutes, is a fun look behind the scenes. The documentary takes a "fly on the wall" approach most of the time, although the actors do address the camera directly. Most of the footage shows the cast joking around, although we do get to see how some of Brad's boxing scenes were shot, as well as scenes of Pitt in a water tank. While I personally didn't like the commentary, this documentary mentions some in-jokes that are explained there, so those who want to get the most out of this documentary should listen to the commentary first.

Storyboard Comparisons
Three sequences are showcased: introducing the characters, Avi comes to London, and Mickey's walk into his second boxing match. We get the option of seeing the storyboards by themselves, or alongside the finished footage from the movie. Personally I think it's best to study the storyboards by themselves first, and then watch the comparison.

Deleted Scenes
There are six deleted scenes. Some of them are fluff, but some of them have alternate storylines that are actually better than the storylines in the finished film. It's amazing to see some of what Ritchie cut out.

Video Photo Gallery
This is a montage of on set photos, production stills, and magazine shots. It's a fun little feature, although not worth watching more than once.

TV Spots/Theatrical Trailers
We get three TV spots, which, amazingly, are all different. Usually tv spots have the same concept, but they use slightly different footage. Here, all three spots have their own concept and footage. We get a U.S. trailer, and a U.K. teaser, too. Also, we get trailers for six Columbia catalogue titles, Go, Dogma, The Professional, The Lady From Shanghai, Dr. Strangelove, and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars.

Booklet Insert
This booklet has some information about the inspiration for certain scenes, as well as explaining in detail Ritchie's on set fine system, including a list of everything that deserved a fine, and how much of a fine it got! The booklet also includes some small production stills.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Is Snatch entertaining? Sure. Is it anything more? No. If you catch this on cable, watch it. Otherwise, stick with Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels.

 


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