Guy Ritchie’s career can be divided in three periods: before, during and after Madonna. Those three periods can be described as good, bad and good again. Or are you that one person who thought that Swept Away and Revolver were worth your time? Didn’t think so.
During that first period of his career the good man wrote and directed “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch”, two gangster comedies that came with complex storylines, colorful characters and nearly unintelligible dialogues that made you thank whoever’s up there on your bare knees for subtitles. Thankfully Ritchie introduced a character in “Snatch” (played by Brad Pitt) that even the other characters couldn’t understand… I admit that it made me feel a little less like an idiot. In both movies we get to follow a bunch of lowlifes out of London’s East End who get caught up in storylines that swirl around each other, separate, cross one another and then all tie together nicely towards the end.
“Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels” centers around a poker player who ends up in debt to a porn kingpin (Harry the Hatchet) and then decides to rob a pot dealer with his friends in order to repay the kingpin. Meanwhile, the kingpin’s enforcer (Barry the Baptist) hires two complete tools to steal a couple of antique and extremely valuable shotguns. Those end up in the hands of the poker player and his buddies and then… well, you get the picture. Things eventually get so complicated you wish a couple of the characters got shot just so there would be a couple less characters to keep track of.
“Snatch” is cut from the same cloth… it starts with Frankie Four Fingers (Benicio Del Toro) who steals a bigass diamond in Antwerp. A Russian gangster named Boris The Blade and an American one named Avi (Dennis Farina) try to get their hands on it. Meanwhile two boxing promoters lose their fighter right before a crooked boxing match and replace him with a gipsy (Pitt) who not only sold them a shitty trailer but who also happens to be a bare-knuckle boxing champion. Whereas I was hoping a couple of characters got shot in “Lock, Stock And…” just so I could follow, this time around that problem seems to resolve itself when people get fed to pigs. To no avail, shit still gets overly complicated once again before it gets better.
Roger Ebert described Ritchie’s style like ‘Tarantino crossed with the Marx Brothers’ and I guess that’s as good a description as any. His movies come with a kickass soundtrack, clever lines, an editing job that looks like it was done by a guy who just guzzled down a crate of Red Bull, a flair for the visual that betrays the director’s roots in commercials and an overall sense of fun, including some very lame yet highly entertaining jokes.