Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Taken at face value, Guy Ritchie’s ‘Revolver’ is a pretty damn shitty movie.  So I’m going go ahead and take it at face value and leave it at that.  There will be no delving into the psychology of the characters, there will be not peeling back layers of subtext to unearth a soft pulp of a deeper meaning, there will be no examination in which I, the film watcher, attempts to rediscover what he, the filmmaker was attempting to say.  What will happen is that I, the film watcher, am going to talk about a film he waited for with great anticipation, only to watch a film that he is more disappointed with than any film he can recently recall.  I will now stop referring to myself in the third person (or second person.  Hell if I know).

Long time Ritchie collaborator Jason Stratham plays Jake Green who is released from a seven year stint in the clink.  Two years pass by and Jake is a wealthy man because he’s mastered ‘the con’.  Jake and his colleagues decide to pay casino owner Vincent Macha (Ray Liotta) a visit since Macha is largely responsible for Jakes jail time.  They play a game of chance, Jake wins and collects a large sum money.  Jake and his boys leave the casino but Jake blacks out and is diagnosed with a rare blood disease with three days to live.  In between, Macha attempts to have Jake killed but the hit goes wrong and Jake manages to survive only through the help of a pair of mysterious loan sharks played Vincent Pastore and Andre Benjamin.  As is typical in British styled gangster movies, a genre Ritchie single-handedly revived, we are introduced to numerous odd characters, strange situations, and straying plot points.  The thing with ‘Revolver’ however is that none of this straying ever, and I mean EVER, comes back together to form anything remotely coherent.

This is Guy Ritchie’s first film since the disaster he unleashed on the world starring his wife Madonna known as ‘Swept Away’.  I excused that piece of dreck from Mr. Ritchie because romantic comedy ain’t what the guy excels at and it was probably something he did because his wife badgered him into doing it.  When ‘Revolver’ was announced it looked like Ritchie was getting back to basics.  ‘Snatch’ and to a lesser degree ‘Lock, Stock and two Smoking Barrels’ were quick moving, hugely entertaining, cleverly shot films and I was more than willing to declare Guy Ritchie as one to watch in the new millennium.  An ensemble crime drama.  This is what this Ritchie does well.  Plus he wrote it with Luc Besson?  Yeah, this is gonna be one to see.  Unfortunately, ‘Revolver’ is a.) Crushed under the weight of its own expectations and b.) Is just plain shitty.

The number one problem with ‘Revolver’ is that it has no sense of direction and is completely lacking in focus.  The movie is moved by dime store psychology, and we’re spoon fed text quotes throughout which are designed propel to us into Jakes psyche, but mainly serve to propel one into confusion.  On the plus side though, the movie is absolutely stunning to look at and it does have some interesting characters, particularly the neurotic assassin Sorter played by Mark Strong.  Stratham is lower key than usual, apparently channeling Christopher Lambert and looking a bit strange with a full mane of hair and beard.  Ray Liotta plays a lunatic, nobody does that much better than Ray, and there is also a rotoscoped animation sequence which, while looking great, existed for no reason other than it could be done.

Wait one Minute!  Upon further thought, I think it’s starting become clearer to me.  Obviously derived from the teachings of Jung, there are many different permutations at work here.  Jake’s brother represents the archetype, the character he would like to ideally see himself as, what he ascends to being but cannot because he can’t get beyond the stereotype that is Jake himself.  Clearly, Liotta’s Macha represents the shadow of Jakes Self.  They are essentially the same, but Macha is disagreeable, darker, and sinister but ultimately their goals are identical despite the fact he exists only in Jake’s subconscious.  Examining Jake’s niece Rachel reveals she only exists as Jake’s subconscious child, exhibiting a na´ve purity that Jake has long lost.  The mirror of Rachel is represented with the unseen character of Sam Gold.  As corrupt as Rachel is pure, as omnipresent as Rachel is under her father’s thumb, as powerful as Rachel is weak.  Lastly, loan sharks Avi and Zack, observe the A and Z, are certainly Freudian references of the Id and Ego mediating Jake’s Super ego.  The beginning, A, the end, Z, with Jake in-between.  He was between them in prison, he is between them out of prison.  He will remain in prison until he emerge from between them .

Actually I just make that shit up.  There is no deeper meaning in this movie.  If there is then tickle my belly and color me stupid because I didn’t catch it.  So revolver could be a visual exercise in the struggle of man with his most vicious enemy, himself, or it could it simply be a really shitty movie.  You don’t have to reach into my subconscious to find out where I stand on that.

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