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Director Guy Ritchie set off a movie atom bomb in 2000 with his comedy crime movie Snatch. It took balding Jason Statham from boxing-promoter conman Turkish to leading Hollywood hard-man, while pretty-boy Brad Pitt was given what he calls “the greatest role ever written”: unintelligible mumble-mouth Mickey the tattooed bareknuckle gypsy boxer who just wanted a peri-winkle blue caravan for his dear Mam.
Fast-forward 17 years and that Snatch has been given a series make-over with a couple of famous faces in the line-up (Seasons 1 and 2 are now on Showmax). And while it’s only loosely based on the movie, you don’t need Brad and Jason showing up to enjoy it.
“When you get us in a room together, the characters really come out and it’s so much fun,” says Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter movie franchise).
He takes centre stage as bowtie-wearing Charlie Cavendish-Scott, one half of a con-artist duo alongside Luke Pasqualino’s character Albert Hill.
“We’re part of a gang who steal gold bullion. Charlie is always trying to justify his position in the gang. There’s this sort of reverse snobbery with Charlie because he came from a privileged background, he’s always trying to fight that.”
Playing the game
Listen carefully whenever Albert is in shot – he’s a cockney rhymer, which means he uses words that sound like something else to express himself (or talk in code). For example, if Albert tells someone to “check the tick tock”, he means “check the clock”, while “Barney Rubble” from The Flintstones is Cockney slang for “trouble”. If you can follow that, you’re good to go as the action unfolds.
In Season 1, Charlie and Albert swap small-time con jobs for the big time when they “find” a truck filled with bars of gold. We’re not talking about 10 or 20 bricks either – a literal truckload of shiny bling. So in the space of a week (and like in the movie version), our hapless conman heroes go from fixing boxing fights and being in debt to gangsters to overnight rockstars who’ve got a serious cash problem: they’ve got too much of it.
“They have to now go about getting rid of this stuff, each with their own unique ways of trying to move it. It’s not that easy and as each episode develops, this gold and turning it into currency becomes more and more of a problem,” laughs Rupert. “There’s just so much going on with the characters each day that if you miss anything, you miss so much. The way that they grow and develop, it’s infectious and you get dragged into this life of crime where they have these outrageous plans and dreams and something keeps getting in the way. Each and every time.”
It’s a semi-anthology series in the broadest sense of the word, because Season 2 is a follow-up from the first but it’s completely different.
The gang have high-tailed it out of the UK, swapping drab-and-dreary Britain for the sunny beach resort of Costa Del Sol in Spain. They’re living the life even though they’re on the run, says Rupert, adding that “they’ve got money and they’re away from the police and people they robbed back home. They think that they’re big-time Charlies (British slang for cock-on-the-block flashy look-at-me boys) but that comes crashing down. They can’t run this town and get away with the quick tricks they pulled at home. The locals do not take kindly to that. Get your loot out, get your people to the Costa. Job done. And we almost had it.”
And that’s when the fun really begins.
The real deal
Think that the crime capers in Snatch are all made up, and robbing a gold truck doesn’t happen in real life? Think again!
In 2016, $4.8 million‘s (R64 million) worth of gold bars were stolen in an armed heist on a Miami interstate. The FBI were called in and discovered that the robbery was so slick that it happened in just five minutes, with 127kg worth of gold and other valuable metals taken.
In 2018, Julio Nievelo committed the Gold Bucket Robbery – he snatched a bag of gold flakes while walking through Manhattan valued at $1.6 million (R22 million). He didn’t break his stride. He reached over, picked up the bucket and got lost in the crowd of pedestrians.
And it’s not just the younger lot like in Snatch who’re dipping their hands into other people’s pockets – the world-famous Hatton Garden Safe burglary in 2015 was committed by senior citizens! The pensioners sawed their way through one metre of contract walls during the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend and emptied 70 deposit boxes filled with £14 million’s (R245 million) worth of gold, jewellery and cash.
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