I watched Revolver after I, in a moment of insanity, bought a Jason Statham box set. The first film I watched from it was War, a generic action movie with Jet Li. So with its title and four star review from Nuts, it’s fair to say that I was expecting a similar sort of thing from Revolver, as opposed to the elaborate, almost Lynchian crime drama it actually is.
It’s hard to know where to start in talking about a film that’s so completely baffling. The non linear story structure is done so we are fed all the relevant information to a particular scene in one go. In some cases this results in a character recounting information to another, intercut with them originally being told the information, meaning two versions of identical dialogue are shown almost in tandem. On top of this we hear the thoughts of some of the characters, mostly Statham’s Jake Green, which bear varying degrees of relation to the world around him. This is usually scene-setting voice over, but is sometime his immediate thoughts, which at one point seem audible to another character.
The bizarre mishmash of flashbacks, slow motion sections put to classical music, scenes representing characters’ thoughts and an array of stylistic quirks make this feel more like watching Inland Empire than Rambo, and like Inland Empire it’s ultimately very confusing. But where Lynch is a master of atmosphere, Guy Ritchie fumbles around with a chess motif and about 30 seconds inexplicably done in cartoon. I kid you not.
The dialogue is at times so strange I was genuinely left wondering if it was meant to be funny. Statham says “bastard” more times than I could count. Lines from his voiceover include “they’re smart. Smart as a pair of little boy’s shoes”, “it’s a dangerous combination, chess and cons” and “if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about experts, it’s that they’re experts on fuck all.” It all has the air of something that’s supposed to sound profound or sincere but is so woefully misjudged as to be completely laughable.
Maybe Richie was aiming for The Usual Suspects meets Fight Club, but this limp and repetitive oddity is the result of a confused mind. Believe me when I say that this is far from a generic action film, but whatever it was aiming for results in a hopeless misfire that befuddles from beginning to end and will leave you thinking “what did I just watch?”