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Tuesday 11 October 2005

I have given this much thought and I must say that Guy Ritchie’s new film leaves me lost for words. I certainly was not expecting another Snatch or a Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, where cockney louts attempt to con each other out of their not so hard earned cash. However, I was expecting something in the Guy Ricthie vain. Sure, he drifted a little with Swept Away, the movie in which Guy believed it necessary to cast his new wife, Madonna – a film that I have kept myself from watching since I don’t enjoy disappointment. But here... Ritchie seemed back in the game of crooks, players, guns and what I hoped would be good script-writing.

In fact Revolver turns out to be a major head-blast. It opens with typically Ricthiesque shots of the favoured actor Jason Stratham – with hair and a beard should I add – which leads us to hope, if only secretely, that this could be another Snatch – the sequal. The first difference, it appears, is that Stratham and the Sting look-alike, Andrew Howard, are the only Brits – Ritchie hits the US of A. The rest of the intro is so close to the masterpieces of the past that it is actually good.

Then comes the head-fucks... What the hell is going on? Who are Zack and Avi (Vincent Pastore and André Benjamin), the apparent Stratham saviours who delve into money lending with a vengeance? What is real and what is not? Why all the schizophrenic scenes (from both Stratham and Liotta’s points of view)?

Perhaps I have worked out some answers for myself but Guy Ritchie does not help us in doing so. The movie’s complexity is somewhat overbearing and, although this should not participate in making a poorly film, in this particular case, the justifications may be slight. One can easily conceive of a classy mental thriller in the vain of David Lynch but Ritchie may be playing in a court which is not yet his own.

There may well be explanations to some of the twists and turns that the movie takes us through and these are certainly not self-evident. Take the scene where Jason Stratham is hit by a car... What is it doing in Revolver? Is Guy Ritchie trying to make the point that fate can be changed by a simple phone call? This may well be but a great part of the film is thus: frown-producing.

The complexity should not, in itself, be a reason for liking or disliking Revolver. A lot of viewers may take great pleasure in some of the typical scenes that the director is renowned for. Others may enjoy new ideas – scenes where there are double visions depending on points of view (one in particular comes to mind where Liotta holds Stratham at gun-point: in Stratham’s mind Liotta is pathetic and appears so, but from Liotta’s own point of view he is scary and awe-inspiring).

Ritchie’s Revolver is a brave attempt at innovation. It is clear that he wanted to stray a little from his London gangster director path to create something new... and something where the viewer would not be simply passive. He may have pushed it a little too far, leaving us lost in thought. Some may even believe this to be a pile of nonsense as indeed it could easily appear so... But the Guy Ritchie’s magical touch is here. It does not entirely save an overly difficult and confusing film but certain aspects remain intact: the strangeness of the many characters, the power of the music in some of the shots and mostly, the shots themselves.


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