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Revolver (2005)


Trickery is something Guy Ritchie has been familiar with for some time. To pull off not one, but two fantastic heist films that look cooler than a Miles Davis concert filmed by Jim Jarmusch, you need to employ certain methods to make sure people stay with the quirky characters and the slick action. In Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the tricks paid off because there was so much to watch and be entertained by, not to mention acting that was always solid. But when he directed Madonna, his wife, in 2002’s Swept Away, and it ended up being a steaming pile of celluloid afterbirth, there was a hint that Ritchie wasn’t so good at films that didn’t employ tricks and maneuvers. So, when he announced that the follow-up would be another heist flick, we should have been able to breathe a deep sigh of relief. No such luck.

Here’s Revolver: Jake Green (Jason Statham) is being chased by Macha (Ray Liotta). They have a sordid history but the main reason is because Green walked straight to Macha’s table in his swank casino and took him for a big wad of dough. To survive Macha’s onslaught, Green agrees to give up every cent he owns to two lone sharks, Avi and Zach (Andre Benjamin and Vincent Pastore, respectively) and on and on goes the little plot.

Ritchie is still employing tricks and maneuvers, but this time, they’re not for our entertainment and instead of the tricks being used to help our interest in characters, it’s meant to trick us into buying unbelievably pretentious and pious subtext. Every look-at-me-ma! camera trick is accounted for and every plot twist that’s been used for the last five years is rehashed to make us believe that we’re watching a ‘cool’ movie. Underneath it all, though, Ritchie has hatched some scheme to make a propaganda film in favor of his and his wife’s religion of Kabbalah.

The effect of the film is cold and resounding pretension. Consider it a crime-caper remake of Passion of the Christ, minus Caleb Deschanel’s excellent cinematography and replaced with the slick, sickening chrome sheen of Tim Maurice-Jones’ camera work. What Ritchie seems to be saying, encapsulated in a scene with Green in an elevator, is that we need to start accepting that there’s a voice in our head (logic, intuition) that we need to ignore to get to a higher power that will enable us to have godlike powers. This is the only way to explains the absolutely unfathomable, ridiculous ending. The problem is that it isn’t laughably bad, it takes itself way to seriously to ever be used as a joke or any sort of entertainment. What’s more, the film exudes the smugness that it can get away with these things without the audience catching on.

This is not to mean that I have anything against Kabbalah and whatever else Ritchie is trying to pawn off here. Believe what you want, by all means, but as the great George Carlin put it, ‘Keep your religion to yourself.’ To be honest, even if the putrid subtext wasn’t as evident as it is, the film is still boring, stagnant, and devoid of conflict. How the people involved in this film held it together is beyond my comprehension, but I can’t remember another time in my film-watching career where I sincerely hated a movie. Of all reasons, the one that bothers me the most is that this film doesn’t think it needs an audience; it’s so cocksure of the dire importance of its message and the film itself that it spends its entire running time patting itself on the back. In all seriousness, this is one of the worst films ever made and certainly one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t say that about Rent or Glitter. Figure that out.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, a commentary track, and two making-of featurettes.