I was predisposed to enjoy Guy Ritchie’s latest, and indeed the first act seemed promising. The fun use of color, over-the-top acting from Ray Liotta, and surreal setting — there are no references to a real city or even country, and twelve-dollar bills are the currency — told me Ritchie wasn’t taking himself or his story too seriously, but I was soon proven wrong.
The second half of this one-hour-fifty-minute movie made it feel three hours and fifty minutes long. I guess epic was the feeling being sought, but when the story evolved from who’s-conning-who-game to profound-psychological-thriller, Ritchie lost his own mind and with it all editorial sense. He seems to have had no one handy in the editing room to give him a second opinion and the result is a few scenes of embarrassing self-indulgence that inspired me to start counting the LED safety lights along the aisle carpet.
Not that the who’s-conning-who mystery was very involving in the first place. Since I guessed the “answer” (no huge feat) as soon as Statham set up the mystery in a flashback sequence, the revelation itself was quite a disappointment. Ritchie fails his own screenplay’s incessant reminders about how to outsmart one’s opponents (or audience). He tries to trick you by piling together so many layers of doublecrossing and Fight Club/Keyser Soze rhetoric that you’re dazzled by the overload, but everything manages to feel derivative and cliched.There are even a few intercuts of Kill-Bill-evoking animation that is “cool” but used so randomly that you wonder why he bothered until you remember that no one was around to tell Ritchie he didn’t have to do everything he wants to try, all in the same movie.
The best thing about the movie is the underused
Stanley Tucci Mark Strong who steals every scene he’s in, but it’s too little too late. Tragically, by the time Tucci Strong wins over the audience in his final scene, the movie is already perpendicular to the surface and it’s only a final glimpse of what could have been.
Ritchie should get a clue from his buddy Matthew Vaughn’s rookie success and rely on someone else’s script for his next project. Interesingly, Revolver is Ritchie’s first movie NOT produced by Vaughn… Hmm, makes you wonder how much of “Lock, Stock” and “Snatch” were Ritchie and how much they were Vaughn saving Ritchie from his own bad ideas.