Lowlife `Snatch' has minor charms

Movie review

January 19, 2001|By Carrie Rickey | Carrie Rickey,KNIGHT RIDDER / TRIBUNE

"Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity," cautions Turkish (Jason Statham), the philosopher-dimwit at the hub of Guy Ritchie's freewheeling comedy "Snatch."

Though he's describing the clocklike moronism of the wisecracking wise guys, pugnacious pugs and broke pawnbrokers whose fates collide in this Tarantino-comes-to-London effort, he might well be commenting upon the film itself. So be warned - "Snatch" is a movie whose how-low-can-your-IQ-go characters are designed to make the audience feel smart.

Comically violent in the manner of "Pulp Fiction," Ritchie's film ricochets off the walls like a barrage of rubber bullets. Ritchie doesn't have a whole lot to say about fate, morality or manhood. But he says it with such flash and zip, with such cockeyed camera angles and Cockney slang that it's so energizing you don't immediately recognize that it's also empty.

"Snatch," which has something to do with a 64-carat diamond that slips out of many hands like a hot potato, is a movie of colorful incidents among colorful characters in a rainbow of London minority groups (Cockneys, Russians, Jews, blacks, Gypsies). The narrative weds the rambling, shaggy-dog quality of a barroom joke with the macho one-upmanship of a bare-knuckle smack-down, and it offers some ticklishly charming moments.

Relieved of the responsibility of carrying a movie, Brad Pitt oozes a loosey-goosey sexuality that recalls his standout performance in "Thelma & Louise." Here, he portrays Mickey, an Irish Gypsy and improbably deft boxer. And the sublime Alan Ford is positively unhinged as Brick Top, fight promoter, gang lord and pig farmer, who dismembers his enemies and feeds them to his porkers.

Since Ritchie films lowlifes with such high style, it would be fascinating to see what he could do with a script that actually had content.

`Snatch'

Starring Brad Pitt, Jason Statham, and Alan Ford

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Released by Screen Gems

Running time 102 minutes

Rated R (violence, nudity, adult language)

Sun score: * * 1/2

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