After several years of sitting on the shelf and a pathetic limited release in December, Guy Ritchie's Revolver has finally made it to U.S. DVD. While the movie isn't nearly as good as his "classics", I am a little befuddled that the movie didn't get a wider release in the spring. Some may view it as a disaster while others may see it as a step forward in Ritchie's direction; either way, it had enough to warrant a wider release.
Personally, I didn't find Revolver all that good. I was hoping for another crime thriller in the vein of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and didn't get that. I don't mind that Ritchie's trademarked fast-paced, quick-edited direction is gone, replaced with a more colorful, glossier appearance, with slower edits and more stable cinematography. I don't mind that the crazy, hilarious characters that populated Ritchie's earlier films in the form of Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones and Brad Pitt have been replaced with more serious, psychological characters. In fact, if I had known what I was in store for, I probably wouldn't have minded anything about Revolver... Unfortunately, I expected and wanted a crime thriller, and got something else entirely.
Revolver starts off promising, with a first ten minutes that introduces us to our "hero", a recent ex-convict (Jason Statham), the bad guy (Ray Liotta) and a mysterious group of people looking to protect Statham, led by André Benjamin. There are some cool slow-motion shots, a small shoot-out and plenty of stuff that sets the stage for a great Guy Ritchie crime thriller. Throughout the movie, there are glimmers of Ritchie's old thriller tendencies, and that's not a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Revolver is not a crime thriller. It is a psychological thriller, by every stretch of the imagination. To explain it fully would be saying too much, but as the story progresses, you begin to realize that Revolver is less about the situations that Statham finds himself in and more about the character himself. Ordinarily, this would be great, but this is Revolver, the next Guy Ritchie crime thriller! Right? Wrong. The movie looks and was marketed as the next - forgive my repetition - Guy Ritchie crime thriller, and I don't blame the marketing department for pitching the film as such. However, the movie is more a psychological study of the lead character than something truly explosive, and ultimately, that direction is disappointing.
Blame it on improper expectations or deceptive marketing, but I wanted a fast-paced crime thriller, not something else. As such, I found Revolver rather disorganized, as if Ritchie wanted to do too many things and didn't quite know how to handle himself. Maybe he's still confused from the disaster that was Swept Away, or maybe he was just over ambitious, but over ambitious is what Ritchie does best. Ultimately, Revolver isn't as smart or as good as Ritchie thought it was.
Still, Revolver isn't all bad. Statham turns in one of his better performances here; while he is always enjoyable to watch, he always tends to play the exact same character. His character here isn't all that different, but does demand more, and Statham handles those demands with ease. Additionally, Ritchie's actual direction is quite good. I miss the frenetic, fast-paced editing that Ritchie is known for, but the glossy, colorful approach used in Revolver isn't too shabby, either. Ritchie certainly has talent, but he needs to get back on track with everything else.
Revolver is an interesting film that goes a direction you wouldn't have expected, but whether that direction is any good is up to you to decide. The movie isn't a disaster, but did nothing for me other than to make me want to watch Snatch again. If you know what you're in store for, Revolver could be regarded as decent, but if you want a funny, action-packed crime thriller a la Smoking Barrels, we'll apparently have to wait a few more years.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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