In which the Snatch director attempts to explain to us the plot of his mind-bending new movie, Revolver.
If you find Guy Ritchie's trippy new film Revolver difficult to follow, you have nobody to blame but yourself. At least, that what Ritchie thinks, and he's not exactly sure why so many people are hesitant to agree. "I'm slightly flummoxed," the director admitted to us at the Revolver press day. "Well, I'm not that flummoxed, because I understand that the mind's making it complicated. Because it took me about a week to understand the premise in the first place, and then I realized that I was just complicating it. It's really tremendously simple."
All right then, Mr. Ritchie, if it's so darn simple, why don't you explain it to us?
"Let me just start with the idea that I was intrigued with, the concept of the film, because the mind hates the concept of the film," Ritchie said. "And that's why when the psychiatrist or...I can’t remember who the first person was who brought the concept to me, but I realized my mind was trying to make it more complicated than what it actually was. The film is tremendously simple."
"It's simply that the only thing or entity you're battling is an internal one, that voice that when you're running keeps telling you to stop just when you start getting tired," he continued. "It's the ubiquitous voice that stops you from enjoying your life, essentially, and it tricks you and seduces you and tells you this is a good idea. And then later it transpires that it's not. So that's the movie, right? And it's no more complicated than that."
"Where the mind starts to make it complicated is when you really have to apply it and then the mind really makes sure that you don’t understand it," Ritchie offered. "I suppose that's what I found most intriguing about the concept is how people -- you could clearly tell 'em. We tell 'em three times in the film: The film is about the fact that there is ultimately no such thing. Ultimately there is no major enemy, no external enemy. We say that three times and people still say, "What's the film about?" After you've told someone that three times, you think well, that’s interesting, because we told you three times. And really, that's what the film is all about."
Despite Ritchie's claim that Revolver's plot is "tremendously simple," the director still saw fit to re-edit the flick for its American release, tacking on interviews with various metaphysicians to the closing credits. "This is a slightly different cut than the one that we released like two years ago or whenever it was because they just found it too complicated," he explained. "I expected some people to understand what the theme of the film was going to be about and there wasn't many that did. So we thought, well, what we’ll do is put a bunch of psychiatrists on the end that could explain that it actually was about something."
One person who needed a little help understanding the concept was Ritchie's star, Jason Statham. "I had this same conversation with Jason, and I said, 'Listen, try and get your head around this,' and he didn't get his head around it," Ritchie recounted. "And then he called me back two days later, and if you speak to him about it now, two years later, now it's his favorite film. Because gradually the concept percolates and when it does, you think, 'Oh, hello. This is interesting.' Because it’s a ubiquitous concept that affects every aspect of your life."
Statham wasn't the only one who had trouble grasping the idea. "You could find members of the crew sitting around, reading the concept, and they sort of wanted to laugh," recalled Ritchie. "They wanted it to be a Snatch, a big 'Jason and Guy' show, but that's not what this film is about. So it was tricky in the fact that you need to talk to people about this film before they go and see it, so they're braced for what it is that they're gonna receive. What we don't want to encourage is people to go and see this film that think that they're gonna get Snatch or something that's light, because it ain't. It ain't light and it ain't funny."
Released over two years ago in Ritchie's native UK, Revolver polarized audiences. "I found that people got so pissed off about the fact that they didn’t understand it that they weren’t interested in it as a gangster movie," said Ritchie. "What happened was they got like, 'I don’t understand it and now I’m angry.' Some people didn’t have that reaction, but some people went bananas and they got really upset about it. So pretty swiftly after that the gangster aspect was reduced and it was that 'What is the film about?' aspect that was the only thing that anyone was interested in. So I like to think that you can enjoy it on that basis, but what gets in the way is that if you don’t understand it then you can get angry."
What's gotten audiences so angry? Find out for yourself when Revolver hits theaters this Friday.
Check out reelz.com's Revolver page for clips from the film and more.