A full two years after its disastrous UK release, Guy Ritchie's Revolver finally arrives in the States this week, giving us Yanks a chance to see what all the fuss was about. Ritchie slightly retooled the flick for its American release, in the hopes of clarifying some of the thematic elements that confounded critics and audiences alike when Revolver first debuted in 2005.
It didn't work. While Ritchie certainly deserves credit for attempting something more cerebral than his macho, flashy ensemble romps Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, his ambition clearly got the better of him with Revolver, a mind-numbing philosophical dissertation deceptively wrapped inside a mob thriller.
Perhaps that's what got British audiences so riled up. At first glance, Revolver looks like a fairly straightforward action flick. Ritchie favorite Jason Statham (with hair -- who knew???) stars as Jake Green, a small-time criminal who emerges from a seven-year prison stint as an expert gambler -- such an expert, in fact, that few casinos will allow him to play at their tables. But Jake has more than money on his mind. He's looking for revenge against the man who put him behind bars, a sweaty mob boss (Ray Liotta) who inexplicably goes by the name Dorothy Macha. After Jake swaggers into Macha's casino and humiliates him in a high-stakes game, the enraged Mafioso abruptly orders a hit on the cocky Brit, and soon Jake finds himself on the run and fearing for his life.
With every two-bit hitman in town after him, Jake warily aligns with Macha rivals Avi (Andre Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore), a mysterious pair who offer him some much-needed protection in exchange for the completion of various mob-related errands.
What seems like a straightforward plot is rendered hopelessly incoherent by a mélange of elaborate flashbacks, quotes from the likes of Machiavelli and Sun Tzu, lots of trippy production design and copious amounts of voiceover. Seriously, the sheer volume of voiceover dialogue throughout Revolver has to be record-setting, if records are kept for such a thing. The movie is essentially one long, insane conversation between Jason Statham and Jason Statham, and it's almost enough to challenge the sanity of even the most level-headed of moviegoers.
Guy Ritchie has repeatedly stated that the theme of Revolver is simply that an individual's only enemy is the voice within that "tricks you and seduces you and tells you, 'This is a good idea,' and then later it transpires that it's not."
In the case of Guy Ritchie and his ill-advised Revolver, I couldn't agree more.
Disagree? Let me know at tleupp@Reelz.com.
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