The problem with "Snatch," Guy Ritchie's crime drama/comedy that looks at life through the eyes of Turkish (Jason Statham), a London promoter of unlicensed boxing matches, is that the film's not really about anything.
Don't get me wrong, there's plenty that happens plot-wise. There's a frenetic chase after an impossibly large diamond. And everyone involved faces life-threatening consequences for one reason or another -- there's nothing like life-threatening consequences to ratchet-up the tension.
But the movie never pauses long enough to let us catch our breath and start to care about whether or not any of the characters get bumped off. Instead, it unfolds like circus performers getting shot out of a canon. And at that speed we're not supposed to notice that the material is a bit thin.
The characters all seem drawn from the pages of the comics. There is bespectacled Brick Top (Alan Ford), the crime boss who feeds victims of his wrath to the pigs. And there's the aforementioned Turkish, as well as Mickey O'Neil (Brad Pitt), an Irish gypsy bare-knuckle boxer whose thick "Traveller" dialect is all but impenetrable.
The film's furious pace keeps you engaged, but at the end it feels like a 90-minute junk-food banquet. Here, Ritchie, for all his talents, comes across as Quentin Tarantino-lite. He gets the action right. But unlike Tarantino, whose films let us get a bit closer to the characters, Ritchie never quite lets us rest and see the gangsters and louts as a lot more than cogs in a well-oiled machine. While Tarantino's movies take on substantial themes, such as redemption and loyalty, Ritchie merely cranks up the action.
I still have "RocknRolla" to watch, and who knows, that could be the film where the director constructs a slightly sturdier vehicle.