DVD Release Date:  March 18, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  December 7, 2007
Rating:  R (for violence, language and some nudity)
Genre:  Action/Adventure
Run Time:  104 min.
Director:  Guy Ritchie
Actors:  Ray Liotta, Jason Statham, Vincent Pastore, Andre Benjamin

When a film's marketing copy promises “a psychological twist that your mind may not be able to handle,” you know you’re in for a treat.

Jake Green (Jason Statham) has just been released from prison, and he wants revenge.  He goes after the casino owner and crime lord who put him there—Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta).  Green gets Macha’s money, thanks to Macha’s weakness for gambling.  Furious, Macha puts out a hit on Green.

Green turns to Avi (Andre Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore), who appear from nowhere and offer protection, in exchange for all of Green’s money.  Coincidentally, Green has also just been diagnosed with a rare blood disease, and Avi and Zach promise to keep him alive until the illness takes him … in three days.  Confused?  Well just wait, because compared to the rest of the film, this plot point—however faulty—is at least lucid.

French director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) has adapted Ritchie’s original script for this film which, after Ritchie’s catastrophic Swept Away (which starred Madonna, his wife), was intended to be Ritchie’s big comeback—the one that returned him to his cinematic roots of twisting, violent action films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  And it’s definitely violent, all right.  The problem is that there’s little to compare with Ritchie’s earlier works—except maybe Swept Away.

After the first few scenes, the plot descends into nonsensical logic.  Each group of gangsters has a posse, and most of them have dialogue yet little to distinguish them from one another.  An annoyingly repetitive narrator describes each and every thought that pops into his mind.  And, Ritchie shows us different endings to scenes.  The film rewinds and, much like a children’s pick-your-own-ending storybook, gives us a new alternative.  This may be why he named the film Revolver, which means “to return” in Spanish.  Get it?

Despite working with Ritchie before, Statham seems angry to be playing the lead.  He alternatively deadpans and storms his way through the role.  Liotta overacts so much it’s more embarrassing than seeing him in leopard-print underwear (which, be forewarned, we do—several times).  Atlanta hip-hopper Andre Benjamin delivers his lines like he’s ordering a burger from the Varsity.  And even Pastore, who is usually quite good as a secondary mob character, has fallen into a bad-acting rut.

The dialogue is loaded with clichés that the characters keep repeating, like an old 42 rpm record with a needle that won’t move.  Much of this schlock is delivered by Statham (later Liotta), as the heavy-handed narrator with pseudo-literary observations like “They’re as smart as a pair of little boy’s shoes” and “You’ve got more tricks than a clown’s pockets.”  His supposedly profound insights, delivered like Moses returning from Mt. Sinai (“In every con, there’s a winner and a victim”), are laughable.

The bigger problem, believe it or not, is that it’s an action movie—yet the plot is really about the importance of pondering life, which all the characters do.  That’s right.  Gangsters, including a hired assassin, talking about the conundrum of reality.  They ponder these issues in convoluted terms (“Is he me?  Or am I him?  Or am I merely myself?”), and without ever considering God.  In one of the few logical (though still absurd) scenes, a character tells Jake to “embrace the pain” and warns him that he’s “still in prison.”  Another can’t fire his weapon and keeps whispering, “Fear me.  Fear me.”  By the end of the film, they all sound like New Age gurus beckoning us to embrace the light. 

Ritchie makes things appear even more self-important by throwing in a slew of pompous quotes, which he flashes onscreen so fast you’re sure he’s attempting subliminal mind control.  Frankly, it feels like he just spent way too much time at the local Kabbalah center.  Either it’s an action movie or it’s a Deepak Chopra video, Guy.  Decide.

As if all this psychobabble isn’t enough, Ritchie ends with a series of interviews during the final credits.  Cue Deepak Chopra again (he has a cameo), who offers this theory: “In religion, the ego manifests as the devil.  And, of course, no one realizes how smart the ego is because it created the devil, so you could blame someone else.”

Which may explain why Ritchie wrote and directed this film.  The devil made him do it.

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Director’s commentary
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • “The Concept” featurette
  • “The Game:  The Making of Revolver” featurette

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Characters drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes throughout film.
  • Language/Profanity:  Numerous obscenities and profanities, many strong.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Partial nudity and a few graphic sexual scenes. 
  • Violence:  Very strong violence including multiple threats and repeated murders, many of which are bloody and graphic.  In one scene, a child’s life is threatened by a sadistic killer.  Numerous scenes involving brutal torture, including a man being set on fire, another strung up by his feet and repeatedly dipped into cold water; a man’s hand is nailed to a table.