Too arty-farty by far
BACK IN 1997, Guy Ritchie smashed his way onto the silver screen with one of the most energetic British movies in years. His Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels heralded the arrival of a major talent. Even Snatch, his 2000 follow-up, didn’t tarnish his reputation. But then came Swept Away (2002)… Making a film with wife Madonna turned out to be a monumentally bad decision, as critics derided it and poor ticket sales in the US resulted in the indignity of a straight-to-video release in the UK.
It took three years for him to get back in the director’s chair, but what looked like a potential return to form backfired in spectacular fashion. Revolver has familiar ingredients from Lock Stock and Snatch, with its lurid mixture of con artists, crime lords and heavily stylised violence, but anyone expecting another fast-moving film will be disappointed. Ritchie wants to be taken seriously as an artist and the end result is the most mind-boggling action thriller ever made, with the cheeky charm of Lock Stock being replaced by plodding widow.
Revolver revolves around con artist Jake Green (Statham). After spending seven years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, it’s payback time and top of his hit list is crime boss Dorothy Macha (Liotta), a man burdened by far more than just a ludicrous name.
After a highly lucrative visit to Macha’s casino, Green discovers that he’s not a friend of Dorothy’s anymore and is in danger of being taken out. Help, of sorts, is at hand from two mysterious gangsters, Zach (Pastore) and Avi (Benjamin). It soon becomes apparent that Jake is caught up in a gigantic con involving drugs and Asian mobsters, but the situation becomes so overcomplicated, it seems doubtful that even Ritchie knows who is conning who. Oh, and by the way, Jake only has three days to live due to a rare blood disease …
The more convoluted and philosophical things get, the more tedious Revolver becomes. The film is suffocated by an overwhelming sense of its own importance and turns into a self-indulgent ordeal. The seriousness is hard enough to cope with in the first half, but, amazingly, things get even worse in a bewildering second. All meaning flies out of the window and if you’ve ever wondered what Ray Liotta looks like in a pair of skimpy briefs, this film reveals all, sadly.
However, on the plus side, when Ritchie forgets about his quest to be a serious artist and indulges in stylised violence, the result is surprisingly effective. In the few places where Revolver kicks into gear, it produces well crafted action sequences.