Revolver


Year 2005

Jason Statham as Jake Green
Ray Liotta as  Dorothy Macha  
Vincent Pastore   as Zach
Francesca Annis as  Lily Walker
Andrť Benjamin as Avi
Mark Strong as  Sorter
 
Director - Guy Ritchie
Screenwriters - Luc Besson
  - Guy Ritchie

Revolver is the story of a man conquering his inner demons. Perhaps demons is the wrong word. It's more the story of a man re-inventing himself through the manipulation of symbols and metaphors. One thing it is not is easily accessible. It should be, but the fact that it's not is the primary reason why this production is in the category of being an average movie.

The story is that a man, Jake Green (Statham) gets out of prison and attempts to get revenge on the person, Dorothy Macha (Liotta), who "set him up" and "killed his family". In truth, Macha didn't set him up and it was the thugs Macha sent that took matters into their own hands and killed Green's sister-in-law. (I can't recall if Macha actually ordered the killing.)

But that's the premise. Along the way, Macha decides to kill Green so Green has to get protection in the form of Avi and Zach. They're a couple of loan sharks who exist in some sort of realm of dispensation. They can act with impunity even against the big boss, Mr. Gold. Mr. Gold is spoken of and although one of his henchwomen is seen, Mr. Gold never makes an appearance.

So, as a viewer, you wonder if Green will survive or if Macha will triumph. That's what Ritchie appears to be going for. A typical Guy Ritchie film is a series of interesting vignettes that come together. That doesn't happen here. What does happen is that Mr. Green deconstructs himself to gain his freedom. (Which makes no sense.)

Speaking of things that make no sense, this movie has them in abundance. Mr. Green was in solitary for seven years. He had a choice of fourteen years in general population OR seven years in solitary confinement. What prison system offers this? There's also some mumbo-jumbo about, "The bigger the trick and older the trick, the easier it is to pull. Based on two principles - they think it canít be that old and it canít be that big for so many people to have fallen for it." Does that make sense? If the trick is known is it a trick? If "so many people have fallen for it" doesn't that make it a big trick? And this observation comes when Mr. Green is describing how the bigger trick is, the easier it is to manipulate the victim. Don't these supposed tautologies conflict with each other? Guy Ritchie tosses out these conundra throughout the movie. You're so busy saying, "How does that make sense?" that you're taken out of the moment and the movie is lessened.

Credit needs to go to Guy Ritchie for attempting to make a film that's more than just a well crafted action film. As a fledgling effort, this movie deserves some praise. Because, you see, in this movie no character is a person. For more details and possible spoilers, see my Revolver Discussion.

For this page, though, let's just say that the movie doesn't know whether it's an action film or a psychological dissection. Because of this, there are many loose ends and inexplicable events in the movie. If it's an action film, why are people shot from directions where there are no gunmen? If it's a psychological film, why does Mr. Green care about assassination attempts on peripheral characters?

It's supposed to be a study in psychology. That psychology being Mr. Green. But Ritchie gets caught up in cool looking shots like the one where Macha stands alone in a room after meeting Miss Walker. For what reason? Other than it's really cool looking piece of photography. And what was up with the lesbian implications of Miss Walker performing an inspection of her staff?

In a movie that supposed to be loaded with nuanced meaning, diversions for the sake of stroking the ego of the director should not be allowed in the finished piece.

Guy Ritchie is so concerned about not giving away the movie's secret (Yeah. It's one of those kinds of movies.) that he inventts red herrings and deliberately lies to the audience to protect his big pay-off. The problem with that is that all of the misdirection means that the the big pay-off is reduced to a little deposit bottle refund. Obfuscation leads to a mish-mash where the viewer has to try to reconcile events in the movie not with other events within the movie, but rather with the external vision of Guy Ritchie. No way, Josť. Too much didn't fit.

What do I mean? I mean that you shouldn't be asking yourself, "What was the writer or director thinking?" You should be asking yourself, "What was the character thinking?" In Revolver the direction is so intrusive that you ask the former question rather than the latter.

Which is too bad because the things that did work, like the part of Sorter (Strong) were nice little touches. Sorter is just that. He's an unaligned near automaton who kills to keep things organized. At the beginning of the movie, he's associated with Macha. By the end, he's become the objective manipulator.

Another gripe about the movie is that Statham is the best actor. How sad is that? For the rest of the cast, Liotta is usually good, Pastore is mostly good, and Benjamin is often good. But only Statham is consistently good. Uneven performances cause lapses in audience concentration.

Then there's the version of the movie. How many are there? I watched the interview with Ritchie on the DVD and he referred to an animation sequence. There's even a still from it on my DVD box. But it wasn't in the version that I watched. There was also another scene where Sorter also goes on a rampage near the end of the film that wasn't in my version of the movie, either. I heard that the final scene of Macha's decision is missing from the British version of the movie. At least it was on MY copy. I guess there's also a version where there are comments from psychiatrists while the credits roll. My version didn't even have that! These various versions don't help. Because there are pieces missing from every version, how can you come up with a definitive interpretation?

For which version I watched, see the picture above.

Should you watch it? It's not satisfying as an action movie. It's not coherent as a trip into the mind of Mr. Green. But it is more than just fluff. It's like a failed attempt at circling the globe using some Victorian contraption. It's a grand attempt, but the tools are dated. Does anyone subscibe to Freud since Jung came out with his analyses?

The movie is promising, and I hope that Guy Ritchie keeps on trying to up his game.

In the meantime, don't expect any RockNRolla and stick with features like Fight Club and Lost Highway for psychological studies. I can't imagine Guy Ritchie breaking in on David Fincher or David Lynch territory, but stranger things have happened.

In typical Guy Ritchie fashion, there's violence, profanity, some blasphemy, and no nudity in my version (I hear that some versions do have it). Chick flick potential is near zero.


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