Dir: Guy Ritchie. UK. 2000. 102 mins.
Prod Co: SKA Films. Worldwide dist: Columbia TriStar. Prod : Matthew Vaughn. Co-prod: Michael Dreyer. Scr: Guy Ritchie. DoP: Tim Maurice-Jones. Prod des: Hugo Luczyc-Wynowski. Ed: Jon Harris. Mus: John Murphy. Main cast: Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia, Jason Statham.
Neatly sidestepping the curse of the second feature, writer-director Guy Ritchie serves up a canny rehash of the same ingredients that made Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels one of the most talked about British debut features of recent years. More ambitious in scope but less adventurous when it comes to the subject matter, Snatch adds a bigger budget and a sprinkling of star names to the tried and trusted formula of dodgy dealings, diamond geezers and ludicrously articulate gangland rapscallions. Backed by the hefty marketing muscle of distributor Columbia, it should confidently match the earnings of its predecessor even in territories where gangster fatigue appeared to have eroded its box-office potential.
Bustling between Antwerp, London and New York, Snatch tries a little too hard to impress with its flashy, hyper-kinetic style and never-ending army of strangely monikered underworld figures like Frankie Four Fingers (Del Toro) and the seemingly immortal Boris The Blade (Sherbedgia). The struggle to claim possession of a priceless stolen diamond and the escalating life-or-death stakes in an illegal boxing contest are the main plot strands that Ritchie dodges between, upping the stakes a little here, keeping the tension simmering there and generally delivering the cocky banter and abattoir bloodshed that his admirers will expect.
Sporting a comically incomprehensible Irish accent, a relaxed and playful Pitt is good value as pugilist Micky One Punch O'Neill and will do the film's box-office chances no harm at all. The moral majority may be up in arms about Ritchie's casual regard for human life and his critics might have expected him to stray a little further from his established turf but Snatch clearly operates on the old maxim that if it isn't broken then don't fix it.