Revolver Guy Ritchie
Like many of his American contemporaries (Wes Anderson and Tarantino spring to mind), Guy Ritchie is another of the current crop of filmmakers who make no qualms about wearing their '70s cinematic influences on their sleeve. Quite how Ritchie managed to riff on Scorsese so blatantly in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and still knock out one of the best Brit-flicks of the '90s is, in fairness, testament to the director's abilities as a writer as much as his prowess behind the camera. Snaring the services of Brad Pitt for the impressive Snatch (2000) didn't exactly damage his stateside reputation either.
Following 2002's torrid rom-com Swept Away (will Madonna ever accept that she simply cannot act?), Revolver thankfully sees Ritchie return to the all-guns-a-blazin' gangster genre that helped make his name. Well, kind of anyway. Whereas Lock, Stock... and Snatch were as British as Del-boy and Rodders, Revolver plays out in a dreamlike no-name metropolis that draws heavily on the film's most obvious influences; Fight Club, Kill Bill and Casino. Not a Robin Reliant in sight then.
Kicking off with three on-screen quotes from Julius Caesar, Machiavelli and The Fundamentals of Chess (a real page-turner), Ritchie launches into an audacious plot that follows Jackie Green (Jason Statham) on his mission to pull off the ultimate con. Having spent the previous seven years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Jackie wants revenge on the man who put him there; casino owner/gangland boss/all-round badfella, Macha (Ray Liotta). When Macha decides to have him whacked, two loan sharks (Vincent Pastore and Outkast's AndrÃ© 3000) offer their protective services to Jackie in exchange for all his money. The twist of course, is that neither Jackie, nor crucially the audience, knows exactly who is conning whom.
Despite requiring the audience's constant concentration, Ritchie just about manages to keep hold of Revolver's criss-crossing reigns for the first hour. As the plot begins to unravel however, so does the director's control. Having traded-in Lock Stock's diamond geezer banter for nigh on impenetrable philosophical sparring, Ritchie almost fails to communicate exactly what the film is supposed to be about.
In purely visual terms however, the film is a joy to behold. Combining a deeply percussive soundtrack with the by-now-obligatory slick camerawork and editing, the film occasionally watches like a masturbatory montage of tick-follows-tock-follows-tick Guinness ads.
The structural complexity of Revolver has already seen Ritchie looking down the barrel of many a critic's gun, but forget what you may have read elsewhere. If you like your films fast, brutal and complex, Revolver will intoxicate far more than it infuriates.30 July, 2005 - 23:00 — Dominic Atherton