on December 08, 2000 by Annlee Ellingson
   Set in the same London underground as writer-director Guy Ritchie's debut "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," "Snatch," which broke Britain's record for the opening of an R-rated film, is more of the same--the key word being "more": It's more intelligible, more stylish and more humorous, and should garner Ritchie even more deserved attention stateside.

   Like "Lock, Stock," "Snatch" consists of several seemingly unrelated plotlines: Diamond thief and gambling addict Franky Four Fingers (Benicio del Toro) stops in London on his way to New York to deliver his latest acquisition to his boss Avi (Dennis Farina) but is sidetracked by the city's illegal bare-knuckled boxing operation. He's also unaware that he's been set up to be robbed by a couple of pawnshop owners and their rotund getaway driver, who have no idea what they're stealing. Avi hops on a plane to London--a destination he despises--and hires "Bullet Tooth" Tony (Vinnie Jones) to track Franky down.

   Meanwhile, boxing promoter Turkish (Jason Statham) and his sidekick Tommy (Stephen Graham) think they've blown their chance at the big time when their fighter, who's set to go down in the fourth, is knocked out by gypsy Mickey O'Neil (Brad Pitt). They convince Mickey to take his place, and of course throw the fight, but he has plans of his own, putting them in bad stead with Brick Top, who chops his enemies into little bits and feeds them to his pigs.

   Except for Pitt, whose Gypsy accent is so hilariously incomprehensible that even the other characters don't understand him, American audiences will have an easier time understanding the actors' Cockney accents this time around, perhaps because familiar faces Farina and del Toro break things up a bit.

   Ritchie has emptied his cinematic bag of tricks--freeze frames, rotating lenses, fast motion, split screens--to often amusing effect, such as the printing of subtitles in an Old English font and the repeated use of footage illustrating Avi's numerous dreaded trips back and forth across the Atlantic. Ritchie's script, which includes a dog that swallows his squeaky toy and a speech on how to best dispose of a corpse, is downright Tarantino-esque in the best sense. Starring Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia and Jason Statham. Directed and written by Guy Ritchie. Produced by Matthew Vaughn. A Screen Gems release. Action/Comedy. Rated R for strong violence, language and some nudity. Running time: 104 min

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