Friday, July 11, 2008

A Frank Review of "Revolver"

Based on Guy Ritchie's career trajectory, I'm trying to figure out which film adaptation of a Marvel Comics super-hero would be best suited to redeem his talents. You know, Jason Statham has done a few films with "Incredible Hulk" director Louis Leterrier, so some introductions later, he's starring in "Union Jack." Since Ritchie already owes Quentin Tarantino royalties for his entire career, he could even crib "From Dusk Til Dawn" once the vampires show up. More immediately, while I feel he's a bit too flashy for "The First Avenger: Captain America," I imagine he'd conceive a bitchin' Vita-Ray sequence.

I don't want to slag on Guy Ritchie. I dug the shit out of my introduction to him, "Snatch," still one of the best guys' nights at the movies I've had. "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" was lower-rent, but solid for putting him on the map. Unfortunately, these films led me to "Swept Away," evidence that Madonna is no mere sorry actress, but the living embodiment of a curse made upon films bearing her taint. Hence, the aforementioned career trajectory of her husband. I understand "Revolver" invokes Kabbalistic mysticism and numerology. I'm a believer in many of the teachings of the Zohar, even though I'm aware it's as big of a scam as any of Ritchie's heist movies. The existence of "Revolver" further shatters vessels of light and inhibits the coming of the Messianic Age. Guy Ritchie is not a worthy opponent, but the victim of "Revolver." It's fucktop.

This is a top-down travesty. It's a painfully pretentious "art" film with gunfights and titties and raptors and Big Pussy. The whole premise is swimming in psycho-babble
that Ritchie seems to not fully understand and is unable to articulate in his work or commentary, but feels compelled to inflict upon his audience like an attention-starved grade-schooler. Ritchie is a lightweight storyteller best served by a large cast of character actors commanding easy affection while going through the motions of entertaining plot complications. Here, he spends nearly two hours ill-served by Statham in a good toupee giving a terrible performance consisting of looking hurt and confused for no readily apparent reason for most of the running time. Then, the reason is given, and you wish you could go back to not knowing. There's cryptic dialogue where there should be piss-taking. There's ominous but well-trod quotes masquerading as insight. There's Ray Liotta bare-assed naked and in a speedo, nowhere near as painful as the quotes and dialogue. I cannot express to you the many ways in which this film goes wrong without spoiling the Shyamalan twists, complete with Shyamalan execution, which should give you some idea of the nonsense to come.

The film is not a complete waste, so long as you remember to invest absolutely nothing in it. Rather than falling back on his usual obnoxious, overly-stylized directing gimmicks, Ritchie employs new obnoxious, overly-stylized directing gimmicks, completely at random without concern for tone or consistency. There are scenes in the film that seem to exist solely to exploit them. For instance, late in the flick, attentions shift away from Statham, right when it's least appropriate, for an extended sequence involving several background characters you've just learned matter in no way to the story. Further, one goes through an unexplained, and again, ultimately irrelevant personality turnabout for no other reason than to engage in flashy ultraviolence. Similarly, Ritchie steals the O-Ren Ishii animated sequence from "Kill Bill" for some really cool images that were created for no discernible purpose beyond tarting up a hoary cliche. If you've ever enjoyed a Guy Ritchie film, there's perhaps something salvageable here if you're willing to join Fonzie in jumping the shark. If not, wow, get the hell out from under this ridiculous fucker with all due haste.

All I know is it makes me giddy to hear Statham use the word "efficacy" onscreen, which Heather Chandler would have missed on next week's vocab test were it not for that taste of Big Blue (and perhaps last night's Corn Nuts.) In tribute, I will use the word "efficacy" as much as possible in the near future to honor this watershed moment in film history. I expect everyone to scream at each usage.

"Efficacy" is to Guy Ritchie's "Revolver" as "talent" is to Paris Hilton's singing career.

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