Revolver

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Playing Mind Games With Yourself, Revolver

Aug 24, 2008 (Updated Aug 24, 2008)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Well written, complex, intense psychological drama wedded to a criminal revenge movie.

Cons:Deliberately obtuse at times. You MUST pay close attention.

The Bottom Line: One wonders if Mr. Madonna has been having an affair with David Lynch, since this movie seems to be the likely offspring of such a union.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Revolver (2005) Written and Directed by Guy Richie.

” One thing I've learned in the last seven years: in every game and con there's always an opponent, and there's always a victim. The trick is to know when you're the latter, so you can become the former.” Jake Green.

Jake Green has been in prison for seven years. His sentence was 14, but he has spent it in solitary confinement, thus shortening it. Now he is out, and he is armed with a new attitude, and is quickly amassing a fortune gambling, where he seems to be unbeatable. In prison, he lived five years between a chess master and a brilliant con man, and was the conduit for many of their moves. He grew very close to these men he never saw, and began to learn from them. They promised when they escaped, to take him with them. But in point of fact, what they did was disappear without a trace, then clean out every bank account and hidey hole he had.

Still, Jake thought perhaps he had gotten compensation from them, because now, he sees the world as a contest, a game, and he has a set of rules that make him a consistent winner. The first rule is: you only get smarter by playing against a smarter player.

Now, Jake is playing the game, and getting rich, and playing against the men whose money he is taking. He chooses a particularly dangerous one, named Dorothy Macha.

Jake is severely claustrophobic (7 years in solitary) and has a problem with elevators. Leaving Macha’s a mysterious man hands him a note saying, “Take the elevator”. Green takes the stairs, and collapses, falling down them. His men take him home.

Outside his home, there is a card on the stoop that says, “Pick this up.” He does, and therefore he is missed by the uzi fire as he is hit by an ambush. The mysterious fat man, Zack, pulls up with and rescues him. At their hang out, his partner Avi, explains he has a fatal disease. They will help him, but it will cost him. First, it will cost him every cent he owns, and second, he will do everything they say without question. He has three hours to decide.

A quick visit to the doctor, and a second opinion, and he is back, and in Avi and Zack’s power. Avi and Zack are loan sharks. The money they are loaning out will be Green’s. And for some reason he keeps thinking about the lesson of the con related to chess. The victim of the con thinks he has control. The more control he thinks he has, the less he actually does. If this is true, then Green is definitely not being conned, because he has ZERO control.

And they make him hand it over personally. Avi and Zack are known as the Last Resort. They are the loan sharks who you deal with when no one else will. And they expect Green to carry out collections as well.

There is a brilliant scene where they send Green to rough up an old lady if she does not have the money. She doesn’t, and Green phones in. He refuses to hit her. “Take the dog, then.” Zack suggests. Green refuses, nor will he steal her TV, and he ends up leaving her what money is in his wallet.

Green may not be suited for loan sharking.
Further, he is beginning to talk to himself, or more to the point, we hear his internal dialogue.

Avi and Zack seem to have it in for Macha. They use a tow truck and drill to rip out the side of the wall of his establishment, stealing his very old, very good safe. This safe is not used any more…normally. But right now, it has a shipment of drugs belonging to Andrew Gold. Gold is a crime gawd. No one meets with him directly, but he controls everything, and he does not accept excuses. Macha has problems.

His only solution is to buy replacements from Lord John, his chief rival, a Tong boss. Lord John agrees to provide, at double the price.

But when the meet goes down, Avi and Zack and Green are there, and they steal both the money, and the drugs, and get away scott free, no shots fired. And now Macha really is climbing the walls.

A desperate crimelord is a formidable opponent…is this the opponent that Green is going up against? Unlikely; third rule of the great con: The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.

If you go into this expecting a crime drama with a twist of humour in the bloodshed, like Richie did in Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels you are going to be sadly disappointed. This movie IS that movie on one level. It is great watching them dismantle Macha and Lord John, and they are very clever. But the real action takes place inside Jake Green’s head. This movie is about transcendental enlightenment, and it is Green’s trip down the rabbit hole. It is weird, esoteric, a little bit like the lovechild between a typical Richie film, and a David Lynch mind trip.

There are layers upon layers of hidden meaning in this movie. You have to pay attention, really listen, and even then, it will catch you off guard. If you do not pay attention, when you hit the end, you will be left standing going, “What the heck just happened?”

Is it a good movie? Well, yes. Is it an enjoyable movie? Well, I think that is going to depend upon the viewer. If you like David Lynch and other intense psychological existential movies, then yes, you will probably like this. If you went to Blockbuster and decided to watch this because you have seen all the John Woo flicks they have, you are liable to be disappointed.

In some ways, this reminds me of a James Joyce novel. There are times when you know damn well they are indulging in obfuscation deliberately, and it kind of hacks you off. But then again, he is such a good writer, you are willing to put in the work. Same principle here.
The Cast.
Jason Statham ... Jake
Ray Liotta ... Macha
Vincent Pastore ... Zach
André Benjamin ... Avi
Terence Maynard ... French Paul
Andrew Howard ... Billy
Mark Strong ... Sorter
Francesca Annis ... Lily Walker
Anjela Lauren Smith ... Doreen

I will say there were no bad performances here. I will also say Jason Statham should stick to the bristly look that served him so well in The Transporter. Also, Ray Liotta turned in an absolutely brilliant performance as Dorothy Macha. Somehow, he was far more intimidating the fewer clothes he had on. Also, for 51, that is an impressive butt.

One thing I will say is no one wandered too far from what they do (and have done extensively) well. Jason Statham is an English criminal. Vincent Pastore was a loan shark/con man, and Ray Liotta was a rage driven crime boss. They did it well, but where is the challenge?

Mark Strong as Sorter though, that was well done. Sorter is a hit man. He is a killing nerd. Nerds are obsessive about what they do. They do it very well. Sorter is an assassin. And he does it very well, though he looks like someone’s accountant.

Final Thoughts
This is not a popcorn flick. It is very much a thinking man’s film. And I think it is very well done. But it is something that I have to be in the correct mood for. I lucked out. I was in the right frame of mind, and had the time to watch it twice back to back.

Incidentally; don’t bother with the extras. The commentary is a complete waste of time, because they won’t talk about plot elements that have not come up yet, so as not to present spoilers. Like any human being has ever watched the director’s commentary FIRST.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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