Revolver (2005)

Starring: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, Andre 3000, Mark Strong

Directed by: Guy Ritchie

Rating: 1 2

If you're a fan of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch and are in need of another fix, then don't even bother with Guy Ritchie's latest offering, Revolver. In this tangled tale of gangsters and guns, drug deals and double crossing, Ritchie trades the slick, comic, earthy style of his former films for a disjointed, pseudo arthouse formula that would never have made the multiplex if it hadn't been for his name on the poster. Mr Madonna is trying to con us into taking him seriously - but will we fall for it?

Jason Statham as Jake Green in Guy Ritchie's Revolver

Conman Jake Green (Ritchie regular Jason Statham) has just got out of prison after a seven year stretch. Thanks to a winning formula he learnt while inside, he's made more money than he knows what to do with, but he won't be content until he's brought down the man he went to jail for: casino mobster Dorothy Macha (a marvellous Ray Liotta). But things take a turn for the worse when he discovers that, thanks to a rare blood disease, he only has three days to live. Meanwhile, two mysterious fellow conmen, Zach (The Sopranos' Vincent Pastore) and Avi (Andre 3000 from Outkast) are trying to rip him off - and he's letting them, because he's convinced that in the end, he can turn the con round on them. After all, as we're told ad infinitum throughout the film, you only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent.

At least. I think that's the plot. It's kinda hard to tell.

A little bit The Usual Suspects and quite a lot Fight Club, the plot twists and turns like a snake with indigestion, and we're never entirely sure what's going on: who's lying, who's cheating and who's conning who. But, unlike the former fine, fine movies, there is no sudden moment of glorious clarity, when all the tiny pieces of the puzzle fall miraculously into place and we are left marvelling at the brilliance of it all. Instead, some stuff is explained (the twists I'd already guessed ages ago), some stuff isn't (the stuff I'd been frowning over 'til my head started to ache), and then we're left staring at a blank screen for five minutes (honestly) listening to some piano music and wondering whether the film (after a yawnsome two hours or so) has finally actually finished.

He's been Tangoed - Ray Liotta as orange faced mobster Macha in Revolver

True, there are some great moments in this film - mostly the bits that are ripping off Tarantino, I might add - and some really good characters. Ray Liotta is perfect as self-obsessed casino boss Macha. With his Tango orange, oddly stretched out face, plugged in quiff of dyed brown hair and penchant for striding about wearing nothing but a skimpy pair of leopardskin pants (and I mean pants in the British sense here), he looks like a dissipated Tony Curtis, Henry Hill imprisoned in a fantastically kitsch penthouse, with décor courtesy of Elvis and Michael Jackson. Then there's sharpshooter Sorter (Mark Strong), the neurotic hitman with an unexpected heart of gold, the terrifyingly icy Miss Walker (who looks like Edna Mode from The Incredibles) and a trio of Irish goons all called Eddie.

But there's also a constant drone of noisy, intrusive voiceovers, a hero that we really don't give a toss about, some rather rubbish Gorillaz style animation that adds absolutely nothing to the action and a plot that makes no sense whatsoever. Yes, you can attempt to make sense of it afterwards and you even can come up with some theories about what was going on and why. But I doubt the theories, like the film itself, would really stand up to much scrutiny.

Pretentious, messy and confusing, Revolver left me feeling vaguely cheated. Perhaps it's just me - perhaps I'm being stupid. Or perhaps, as Ritchie himself has suggested, you need to see the film three times before you finally understand it. Which, in itself, is a bit of a con.

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