Slick, cheeky and with an endless supply of memorable quotes, Snatch proved to be Guy Ritchie's last hurrah before the disastrous 'Madonna' years.
It was about to go rapidly downhill for him soon afterwards, but at the turn of the millennium, Guy Ritchie was approaching the height of his powers.
A 1995 short film known as The Hard Case eventually snowballed into the memorable Cockney gangster flick Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels thanks to the unlikely combination of producer Matthew Vaughn (he’s since directed Layer Cake and Kick Ass) and Trudie Styler, known to most people as Sting’s wife, hence the singer’s unlikely cameo role as the father of chief protagonist Tom.
Anyway, following on from the success of Lock, Stock, Ritchie was suddenly hot property and some major studio investment allowed him to elaborate on the Cockney gangster theme with a bigger budget, a wider scope and a more star-studded cast featuring the likes of Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina and eh, Vinnie Jones.
Like Lock, Stock, Snatch takes the seedy London underworld as its setting and like its 1998 predecessor, it’s slick, it’s cheeky and there’s a whole lot of subplots going on that eventually roll into one.
Before long has passed in the film, the worlds of unlicensed boxing, high-end diamond heists and buying caravans off dodgy pikies have all been visited and it’s a credit to Ritchie and the writers that there’s a feasible link between the characters in all those settings and that the storyline doesn’t become too muddled as a result.
Because of the pacing of the film its 104 minutes running time flies by, but 12 years after its original release, a large section of the movie-going public will instantly remember some of the more standout quotes, like the ones referenced below.
Brick Top: “Do you know what "nemesis" means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by an 'orrible cu*t... me.
Vinny: “I thought you said he (Tyrone) was a getaway driver. What the fu*k can he get away from, eh?”
Mickey: “Good dags. D'ya like dags?”
Mrs. O'Neil: “Yeah, dags.”
Tommy: “Oh, dogs. Sure, I like dags. I like caravans more.”
Although Snatch was well received for the most part, a recurring criticism was that it was too similar in style and approach to Lock, Stock, which, after all had been released only two years previously.
A quick glance through Ritchie’s filmography suggests that versatility isn’t exactly one of his strongpoints, but Ritchie was still establishing himself at that stage and besides, his first venture after Snatch, the awful Swept Away with then wife Madonna, hammered home the fact that he should stick to what he knows.
For more cult films, check out the Jameson Cult Film Club.
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