Sunday, March 18, 2007

Episode 20 - Revolver: A Tale Of Hardship

Revolver - Jason Statham plays Jake Green, a career gambler. For the past two years he's been making tons of money the only way he knows how: taking people's money from them right in front of their faces. Before that? He spent seven years in solitary prison sandwiched in a cell between two men whose faces he never saw, and whose voices he never heard. The only contact that the three of them had with one another were notes passed in books. These two men were incredibly intelligent and shared many of their conning secrets with one another before mysteriously escaping, leaving Green behind to live out the remainder of his sentence in confinement. When Green finally finished serving his time, he returned to the place where he'd hidden all of his money before being taken away, only to discover that it's been stolen by the two men he never met. Hence, he started over and made his new fortune. Cut back to present day, and we find Jake up to his old tricks. Tricks which end up getting him in a lot of trouble. After humiliating crime boss/casino owner Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta) in front of his peers in a game of chance, Jake finds that a hit has been placed upon his head. Obviously in over his head, he is forced to entrust his well being to a pair of lone sharks named Avi (André Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore). Their assistance, however, doesn't come without a price, and before long they've squeezed every last penny out of Jake, just to turn around and loan large quantities of the cash to their clients. When Avi and Zach begin enacting their plans to take down Macha, Macha's plans to take out Jake become more intense. Before long, Jake doesn't know who he should be more afraid of: Macha, or Zach and Avi. Convoluted plot involving lots of crime and Jason Statham? Who other than Guy Ritchie could be responsible for this movie? With films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch under his belt, I was eagerly awaiting his next stylized, twist-filled masterpiece. Does Revolver fit the bill? To be completely honest, I'm not really sure. Allow me to explain. Lock, Stock and Snatch are two of my all time favorite movies. They both fit into my favorite genre, which I have begun referring to as "comedy of errors with a brain and a hint of action"; a genre which I would also place the films Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Lucky .. Slevin into. Revolver is less a comedy of errors and more of a very serious crime drama/mystery. It's always hard to categorize Ritchie's movies as they tend to involve lots of different tones and themes throughout. To put it simply, Revolver, while always interesting and intriguing, was rarely exciting. There were moments, such as one scene involving a hitman (or more specifically a hitwoman) in a restaurant, that had me literally giggling with anticipation, but not nearly as many as some of his previous movies. The plots he devises are also usually very confusing and involve a lot of threads revolving around separate characters. Again, Revolver is like this, but to a lesser extent. In essence, upon my first viewing of Revolver, it seemed less like a Guy Ritchie movie and more like a really good movie by someone else. Don't get me wrong, though; there are some very obviously Ritchie-esque scenes. Then again, there are some very un-Ritchie-like scenes as well. For example, there was a scene that involved visual effects that looked as though they fell somewhere between rotoscoping and traditional animation. I've heard some people liken it to the animated sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1, but aside from the fact that it's animation, I don't really see the connection. Tarantino used animation to imply a certain mood and tell a back story. Ritchie used animation for...well...I'm not really sure why, but what he does with it is interesting, and while seemingly unnecessary, I wouldn't say that it was a bad choice. Overall, Revolver was not at all the movie that I was expecting to see. The trailers made it look like it would follow the same path as his previous efforts, and I had plenty of time to watch them as the movie came out in Europe in 2005 and still hasn't been released here in the states. In the end, I was desperate enough to see the movie that I simply downloaded a DVD quality copy of it. I tried waiting, but there's still no US release date for theaters or DVD. I even briefly considered purchasing a region-free DVD player just so I could then buy a European region copy of the DVD to watch. That's how much I wanted to see the movie. In the end, I'm happy with my decision to download it, but I will be first in line to buy a copy if and when it is released here in America. As far as the film itself goes, while It didn't quite meet my expectations, it was an engrossing film. In fact, I'd say that it's even more confusing than his previous films, which I admittedly required multiple watchings of to fully understand. I look forward to re-watching Revolver in hopes of taking it in more thoroughly and possibly enjoying it even more. And even if I don't like it any better the next time around, Ray Liotta's incredible (seriously...incredible) performance should keep me entertained.

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