Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The question many people are probably asking themselves of Revolver is whether or not Guy Ritchie is back in cheeky-gangster form after the Swept Away debacle. The answer is yes, but Ritchie is more ambitious than that. Here he is attempting no less than a full-on deconstruction of his first two films both structurally and thematically. Whether or not anyone will actually enjoy the film is another question entirely. It took some pretty big brass balls to do something this ambitious (for Ritchie). The movie does however, collapse under its own weight somewhere around the halfway point. Deconstruction is perhaps too big a goal for films as shallow as Guy Ritchies. The man is most known as the best of the Quentin Tarantino rip-offs with an even bigger emphasis on style-over-substance.

Fresh off the Transporter 2, Jason Statham is a bit more nuanced as Jake Green than Frank the Driver. He has switched to a pinstriped suit (which he is always wearing) and has a lot of hair on his head and a beard. He is the typical calm and collected type, a Statham specialty perfected in both Lock Stock… and Snatch. But in Revolver, Jake has more of an edge. He constantly doubts everything around him and is very much on edge internally and closterphobic to boot. Jake wasa low level thug who went to prison after his boss betrayed him. After a 7 year stint where he studied gaming theory and the art of the con from two anonymous inmates, he aspires to new heights in Londons gambing underworld. He is immediately successful upon his release from prison, amassing massive amounts of cash, and hurting he ex-boss by taking much of his money in a serious of showy and audacious bets. It all goes to hell however, when he is blackmailed by two mysterious loan-sharks and forced (for incredibly convoluted reasons) to work for them, starting a massive war between the Britsh and the Chinese gangs in the city. Frank goes from issuing gaming lectures right out of John Dahl's Rounders to questioning whether or not he is in fact the 'sucker.' This is one of the best stengths of the film.

Ray Liotta plays a reckless and unstable crime boss. If flying into red-faced rage while spitting on your underlings is the path to power, it is quite obvious how Liotta rose to where he is. But even Liotta is a small fish in the sea next to the mysterious Gold, a Kaiser Soze type who has an Edna Mode woman handle his business arrangements with the mid-level crime bosses. You know right off, that a live wire such as Liotta doesn’t stand a chance in the con-game, but Liotta chews up the role (and the scenery) with gusto and is a pleasure to watch, even it he often is wearing a skin-tight leopard skin speedo which wouldn’t look out of place on Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast.

Another stand out in the film is a sniper (Mark sorter looking like a cross between Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub) who experiences a change of heart in one crucial scene. What follows is Revolvers best sequence, not surprisingly, a highly stylized shoot out.

Revolver is a chess game within a chess game, within a chess game. At some point you may ask yourself whether or not it is actually worth trying to keep up with the film and just enjoy one implausible scene after another. Take for example the 3 day timeline the film sets out with. The wardrobe and exotic-location changes on the loan sharks (Vincent Pastore and Andre 3000, both very comfortable with this material, are clearly enjoying themselves) alone would take a pretty serious level of co-ordination.

Part of the fun is to see just how far Ritchie is going to go after he has jumped the (loan) shark. One interesting thing to note is that Ritchie has also turned down the humour here, make no mistake there are laughs in the film, but things are not played as broadly as Lock, Stock… or Snatch.

Revolver shameless rips of from Mamet’s many con-game films, The Usual Suspects, Fight Club and P.T. Anderson’s Hard Eight. I kept being reminded of Donald Kaufman’s screenplay in Adaptation for some reason. The operatic and ambiguous finale is bound to test the patience of the multiplex audience, but hey, I enjoyed the ride, it is excessive and silly fun told in the snappy language Ritchie has been developing for his humourous gangster confections.


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