Review crime comedy-drama Series Snatch Season 1 The success of FX’s Fargo seems to have various TV networks on the prowl for more cult-classic crime movies to morph into serialized dramas.
Crackle throws its hat into the ring with Snatch, a loose adaptation
of Guy Ritchie’s hyper-kinetic 2000 caper. But where Fargo manages
to be both a fitting tribute to its source material and a wholly different
beats, Snatch settles for being a decent but uninspired riff on what
The series was created by Alex De Rakoff, who directed the similarly Ritchie-inspired Dead Man Running and the bizarre FMV opening sequence in Grand Theft Auto 2.
In terms of plot, the new series pretty quickly
diverges from the original Snatch, but when it
comes to presentation – the love of slow motion,
the smash cuts, the trendy music – the new
Snatch is very much like the old.
Luke Pasqualino (Skins) leads a large ensemble cast as Albert “Albie” Hill, a small-time crook trying to support his mother, Lily (The White Queen’s Juliet Aubrey) and live up to the example set by his incarcerated father, Vic (Hemlock Grove’s Dougray Scott).
Together with wayward rich kid Charlie Cavendish Scott (Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint) and up-and-coming boxer Billy Ayers (Scream Queens’ Lucien Laviscount), Albie struggles to keep debtors at bay and finally make a name for himself in London’s criminal underworld.
Over the course of the first couple episodes, the trio join forces with Lolli Mott (Dickensian’s Phoebe Dynevor), the jilted girlfriend of local crime lord, Sonny Castillo (Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick), and Chloe Koen (Defiance’s Stephanie Leonidas) a resourceful,
upscale pawn broker who becomes the group’s fence. Other major players include Vic’s long-time rival. Bob Fink (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’s Marc Warren) and Vic’s faithful partner and cellmate, Harry (The Football Factory’s Tamer Hassan).
That’s just the main group of characters. The good news is that Snatch has ample room to work with over the course of its 10 45-minute-long episodes, and by the end of the second installment, viewers should have too much trouble sorting out the various players and their allegiances. In general, De Rakoff and writer David Harris Kline manage to keep the show moving forward at a steady clip.
The show may lack the purposeful efficiency of the film, but it rarely feels boring or padded out (despite the often gratuitous use of slow motion). Directors Nick Renton, Lawrence Gough and Geoffrey Sax all manage to echo Ritchie’s distinctive camera work.
While the show’s low-budget nature sometimes rears its head (particularly in the lack of variety of sets), there’s a certain appeal in seeing the slick, stylish camera work contrasting with the generally grungy nature of the urban London setting.
The first episode begins in more or less familiar territory,
with Albie struggling to keep an aggressive loan shark off
his family’s back by betting big on Billy’s boxing match,
with predictably disastrous results. Long story short,
Albie and friends wind up in possession of a mountain of gold bullion,
a score that might just change all of their lives, assuming they can keep the gold hidden long enough to figure out how to sell it. Thus begins a prolonged comedy of errors as the gang’s fortunes rise and fall repeatedly until the final, high-stakes heist.
The cast tend to be likable enough, despite some
of them being far too handsome for their roles.
Laviscount and Dynevor especially look like
they’d be more at home on a fashion runway
than plotting daring heists in seedy back-alleys.
Pasqualino at least has has a slightly wounded quality beneath the chiseled features, one that befits an ambitious gangsters with a mountain of daddy issues. Aubrey and Scott share a number of strong scenes, as well, with their embattled romance fueling many of the show’s more dramatically satisfying moments.
Grint turns out to be the show’s most welcome surprise,
however, as he begins to follow his fellow Harry Potter stars’
footsteps in emerging from the shadow of that massive franchise.
Grint’s Charlie Cavindish Scott isn’t so different from Ron Weasley in that he’s still the underappreciated third wheel of the group.
The character can prove frustrating at times given how often the gang’s series of misfortunes are a direct result of Charlie’s bumbling or poor decision-making.
But there’s a depth to Charlie that most of the other characters lack. He’s an outwardly confident charmer who makes a show of eschewing his privileged background right up until the point he needs to pilfer a few valuables or raid the country estate for a drunken bender.
Grint served as executive producer for the series alongside De Rakoff, and there’s a sense that the duo spent a little more time trying to flesh out Charlie’s psychology than the rest.
It’s a shame that the writing isn’t a little more evenly focused. In general, the dialogue isn’t half as clever and witty as it thinks it is. And Lolli and Chloe tend to suffer the most when it comes to one-note characterization, giving the show a decided lack of fully realized female characters.
The show is quick to pair up Lolli and Billy romantically, and after that point Lolli is given little to do but sulk and muse about “getting away from it all.” As for Chloe, there’s never really a sense of what drives the character to leave behind a successful practice to help out a gang of screw-ups.
Along with the shallow characters, Snatch generally struggles with its central theme of sons confronting the legacies of their fathers. The show attempts to explore Billy’s father issues without much success.
And while Albie’s growing tension with his own father,
a man who proves incredibly controlling even behind
bars, drives much of the show, there’s little in the way
of satisfying resolution on that front.
The final few episodes more or less abandon that in favor of portraying Albie, his friends and his parents as a close-knit family unit and underdog heroes. It doesn’t feel earned. For one thing, too much of the Hill family drama is casually swept aside.
For another, it’s bizarre seeing Albie and his friends suddenly morph into suave, competent super-criminals who would be more at home in an Ocean’s Eleven film than a story of a few twenty-something bank robbers in over their heads.
In many ways, Snatch becomes a different (and lesser)
show in its final two episodes. The resolution is too clean
and easy, and it doesn’t leave a great deal of room for
a follow-up season.
Assuming the show does return, it might do well to take another page from Fargo and reboot the cast, this time paying more attention to each of them are equally well
Snatch is an entertaining update to the original film,
even if it mostly gets by on aping that film’s sense of
style rather than adding anything new to the mix.
The nonstop series of criminal misfortunes help propel the show along.
On the other hand, the lackluster writing rarely does justice to the solid lineup of actors. Snatch is certainly worth a try (especially since Crackle is a free service), but it could have been more than it is.