“‘Snatch’ is the Same Old Thing”
by Scott Mantz

“Snatch”
Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt
Directed by Guy Ritchie

Fight Club! Brad Pitt (second from left) is a gypsy boxer in “Snatch”

To: Guy Ritchie (Madonna’s husband)
From: Scott Mantz
Re: And now for something completely different!

I envy you, Guy. In fact, I know a lot of “guys” who envy you. After all, you’re 32 years old, and you’re married to one of the sexiest and most famous entertainers in the world. Of course, I’m talking about Madonna.

Since we’re both about the same age, Guy, it’s easier for me to say this, but I’ll bet that when you were around 14 or 15 years old, you were getting into the groove with songs like “Lucky Star,” “Holiday,” and “Like a Virgin.” Who could have possibly guessed that 17 years later, you would be married to the very same woman who sang those songs? Never mind that she’s 10 years older than you. She still looks great, she still makes great music, and she still causes quite a ruckus whenever she walks out the door.

This brings me to the reason why I “called.” Your film career has been on the upswing ever since the release of your first movie, the ultra-hip, trendy, and cool “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels,” back in 1998. While the film didn’t make a ton of money at the box office, it still sat well enough with critics for them to crown you as “the next Quentin Tarantino.”

That’s high praise, but it may have been more like a curse instead of a gift. I mean, what has Tarantino been up to these days? After he gained a cult following with 1992’s ultra-violent “Reservoir Dogs,” he exploded onto the masses and redefined the gangster genre with 1994’s “Pulp Fiction.” His follow-up, 1997’s “Jackie Brown,” turned out to be more of the same–but not as good–and he hasn’t been heard from since.

Fortunately, your second movie, “Snatch,” is good. In fact, it’s really good, but let’s be honest here–you practically remade your own movie. As with “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels”, the film revolves around a bunch of crooked British blokes who live and work in the London underworld. Once again, the stories are so convoluted that it will take repeated viewings in order to figure out what’s happening (and more importantly, what everyone is saying!), but there’s no doubt that your directing technique mixes elements of Scorsese, Tarantino, and even MTV to give it a look and style that’s all its own.

As for the story, lemme see if I can get this straight. Turkish (Jason Statham) is a small-time boxing promoter who stumbles upon a scam to steal an 86 karat diamond. Franky Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) initially stole the diamond, but when his gambling habit gets the best of him, he can’t deliver it to Avi (Dennis Farina), his boss back in New York. When Avi reluctantly flies to London to get it back, he discovers that a bunch of other British thugs are hell bent on stealing the diamond for themselves. Making matters worse is that none of them are aware of what the other one is up to. (Is that the gist of it?)

I gotta say, Guy, you scored quite a coup by getting Brad Pitt to appear in your movie. Then again, this is just the sort of role that Pitt–who plays a bare-knuckle boxer who really, really loves his mother–relishes the most. Looking back, he had the biggest movie of his career as a gritty cop in the dark and poetic “Seven,” and whether you liked “Fight Club” or not, his performances as Edward Norton’s alter-ego was nothing short of spectacular. With “Snatch,” he stays in gritty territory, but his devil-may-care attitude gives the film its much-needed heart and humor.

Now, Guy, after the success of “Lock, Stock,” it would make perfect sense for you to want to try something different for your next time out, but instead, you’ve given us more of the same. That’s not such a bad thing, since the movie is so unique, refreshing, and entertaining, but like Quentin Tarantino, you’ve put yourself in danger of boxing yourself into a corner.

This brings me back to my point about your wife. Here’s an entertainer who has completely managed to reinvent herself every time she sneezes. Maybe it’s about time for you to think about doing the same.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at another of your enormously talented peers–M. Night Shyamalan. After “The Sixth Sense,” a supernatural suspense thriller with the twisted ending, solidified Shyamalan as one of the most innovative filmmakers since Hitchcock, he came out with “Unbreakable,” another supernatural suspense thriller with a twisted ending. Talk about pressure! Now he has to follow up two films with a silimar premise and make his next movie something completely different.

Martin Scorsese may be best known for mob movies like “Mean Streets,” “Goodfellas” and “Casino,” but he’s also managed to deliver entertaining films in other genres as well. Giving credit where credit is due, “Snatch” is an engaging movie, so bask in the glory while you can. But the next time out, do yourself, your marriage, and your fans a favor and prove to everyone that you’re the real deal. I know you can do it, Guy. I’m rootin’ for ya.