Sony // 2007 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 4th, 2008
Your mind will not accept a game this big.
Guy Ritchie says he entered the movie business because he always wanted to make entertaining movies. In that regard, I think it's pretty safe to say he hasn't let anyone down yet (not counting big-time Razzie winner Swept Away). Even his latest crime thriller Revolver, which is filled with flaws and follows an utterly ridiculous storyline, is at least entertaining enough to keep action fans gazing at the screen for 104 minutes.
The story of Revolver, though incredibly confusing, focuses on Jake Green (Jason Statham), a quick-witted trickster who puts his life on the line when he vows revenge against Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta), the powerful casino owner who sent him to prison a few years earlier. But after Macha devises a murderous plan to make him disappear once and for all, Green seeks shelter with two ingenious con men (Vincent Pastore and Andre Benjamin), who offer to protect his life in return for a large amount of money.
In a nutshell, Revolver is as chaotic as a gangster film can get. Ritchie's tangled script is the primary reason behind an almost totally incomprehensible plot that may cause some viewers switch of their DVD player within the first 20 minutes. It's hard to come up with a description that would best match the main storyline, but if I were limited to a couple words to explain what the heck is going on in this flick, I would call it a pseudo-philosophical mess that spends an awful lot of time digging far too deep into the intricacies of the human ego. On top of that, Ritchie also lets his characters play around with certain rules and formulas about how to pull off the ultimate con, although the entire concept is ludicrously over the top.
Along these lines, the main characters spend most of their time tossing around wise catchphrases instead of engaging into a coherent exchange of dialogue. "You can only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent" or "The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look" is pretty much all they come up with. Just in case you were wondering, the film also ends with a major twist, but if you haven't already lost track of things or don't care enough to stay focused until the end, chances are you won't be that surprised. A second viewing (if you're up for it) is therefore recommended.
I initially expected more from the film's A-list cast, but most of the actors are not in their best shape. Jason Statham, of course, is always good at playing a tough guy looking for trouble, and he's undoubtedly the only cast member to deliver a compelling performance in the role of Jake Green. Ray Liotta struggles as the malicious casino tyrant, but the most intimidating thing about his character is his disturbing underwear (he really could've worn more clothes). As for Andre Benjamin and Vincent Pastore, their shallow performances as two cool but soulless con artists almost go unnoticed.
Although the confusing story inflicts the most damage on the film, Revolver is also incredibly fast-paced and action-loaded. No matter how messy or ludicrous the plot really is, the movie is stuffed with a bunch of hot pursuits and crazy shootouts captured stylishly by cinematographer Tim Maurice-Jones. Additionally, Ritchie's direction gives way for some extravagant but compelling sequences that make it a lot easier for viewers to at least halfway accept the crippled script.
The audio transfer and picture quality on the disc are top-notch. The image is sharp and the beauty of the cinematography really shows on a large TV screen, while the sleek soundtrack and the trashy dialogue work in perfect harmony. As long as you're comfortable ignoring the complexity of the story, Revolver on DVD may have a whole lot in store for you after all.
Those of you intrigued by Ritchie's latest escapade will certainly be surprised by the quantity of bonus material on the disc. I know quantity does not necessarily equal quality, but in this case, the special features are definitely worth checking out. Kicking off the section is an intriguing 24-minute behind-the-scenes look, during which Ritchie does a great job summing up the film in less than five seconds: it's about a guy who plays a game and wants to win it. Who thought it could be that easy? Ritchie also talks about what it takes to develop the trick of all tricks to pull of the con of all cons, adding a little more information about those countless formulas his characters openly throw around in the film.
Besides four minutes worth of funny outtakes and a bizarre three-minute music trailer, the bonus material also includes a very interesting featurette about the making of the score by Nethaniel Mechaly. Ritchie's feature commentary is not as enlightening as I expected it to be, primarily because he repeats most of what he already talks about in the making-of and the 16-minute concept interview with James Herbert, which you'll also find on the disc.
Revolver is definitely not Ritchie's best, but it's not a total mess either. The script does most damage to the end result, but at least it's not that boring. I do recommend this flick to Ritchie fans who are glad he dumped Swept Away and finally returned to the action genre.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* "The Concept" Featurette
* "The Game: Making of Revolver" Featurette
* Deleted and Alternate Scenes
* Filmmaker's Commentary
* Music Trailer
* Official Site