Snatch: Deluxe Edition
Remember the farcical structure of Guy Ritchie's caper comic strip Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? You know multiple criminal gangs with overlapping agendas pursue a bag of money, with everything tying together at the end as if you'd just watched an episode of "Seinfeld" directed by Sam Peckinpah? Well, take that basic plot frame; expand the geography (and production budget); add a fist-sized diamond and rigged boxing matches in place of a money bag and a gambling debt; season generously with some exceptionally clever structural and editing tricks; remove some of the zest of seeing this sort of film for the first time; and you're starting to get the vibe of Ritchie's ambitious follow-up effort, Snatch. If Lock, Stock was Ritchie's Reservoir Dogs, this is his Pulp Fiction a rambling, funny expansion of a signature style. The movie's a veritable sitcom of crime packed with larger-than-life thugs, diamond merchants and boxing promoters screwing each other over, botching heists and courting coincidence as they pursue the film's multi-carat MacGuffin. The intricate plot gymnastics are certainly a pleasure (it's not surprising that Ritchie's an avid chess player), but Snatch also has a rich, playful texture in its storytelling a ballsy confidence with which it plays with film language. Elaborate sequences are cut out of order and still make perfect sense; maybe two dozen characters are juggled with minimal confusion; scenes are interrupted with footnote-like visual illustrations. Even a dramatis personae montage introducing the principal characters is packed to the gills with seamless edits, graphic-design friezes and acrobatic camera work. And the performances are numerous and skillful: Brad Pitt steals the movie with his supporting role as a "pikey" (read: Irish gypsy) boxer with a damn-near indecipherable accent. As nasty crime boss Brick Top, Alan Ford (who played a barkeep in Lock, Stock) comes off like Jack Palance clad in bug-eye glasses, crossed with Albert Finney, then morphed slightly in Photoshop. Dennis Farina, playing an exasperated diamond merchant who hates traveling to London, doesn't act; he behaves. And of course there's soccer star Vinnie Jones embodying yet another fearsome, charismatic enforcer. It's a true ensemble film, solid from nave to chaps.
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's two-disc Snatch: Deluxe Edition is a modest update of the previously issued two-disc "Special Edition," with a Superbit anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) on Disc One, along with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options and an array of subtitles (including "Pikey"). The package also advertises commentary with director Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn, as well as a "Stealing Stones" extended-branching feature (both found on the Special Edition release), although these features could not be found on the setup menus. The box also does not advertise the DTS audio, forcing this reviewer to suspect that a bare-bones Superbit edition found its way into the keep-case in error (other consumers' mileage may vary). Disc Two offers many supplements also found on the Special Edition release, including "Making Snatch," a profane, shambling 24 min. "making-of" documentary (and one that's enjoyably off-kilter in a genre plagued by what Spike Lee once called "that EPK bullshit"); six deleted scenes with director/producer commentary; storyboard/final film comparisons for three scenes; a "video photo gallery" (5 min.); three U.S. TV spots; theatrical trailers; and filmographies. It's difficult to discern any reason to recommend the upgrade to folks who already have Snatch on DVD, although the gift-set option packs the dual-DVD slimline keep-case in a paperboard sleeve with an attractive glossy booklet, a deck of custom playing cards, and a dealer's buck.