x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Revolver

A monumental failure, Revolver has hardly proved a return to form and favour for the beleagured.

Revolver was supposed to be Guy Ritchie's comeback movie. It is, however, a monumental failure for its writer-director. Before Revolver, there was 2002's Swept Away, an inoffensive tale of volatile would-be paramours on a desert island that starred Ritchie's then wife Madonna. It became, unfairly, a critical whipping boy. Swept Away cost $10 million (Dh36.7m) to produce, and made only $500,000 (Dh1.8m) at the box office and took less in the US than any previous Ritchie movie. The filmmaker badly needed to return to his roots and to his fan base but Revolver would not be that return. The film is a step back towards the home turf of gangsterism. But it's also a step in another direction - nay another dimension entirely. For the first five scenes at least, it all makes sense. Jason Statham's Jake has been released from prison after serving seven years for a crime he didn't commit, and is now out to extract his vengeance from the local gang lord Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta). After an altercation between the two men at a gaudy casino, Macha orders Jake's assassination. Jake, luckily, is saved from death at the hands of the ace assassin Sorter (Mark Strong) by two guardian mobsters called Avi (Andre Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore). Unfortunately, before the first act is even up, the narrative begins to wobble. Here, under the soporific monotone of Jake's relentless, pseudo-philosophical voice-over ("In every game there is always an opponent and always a victim"), a counter hit is organised against Macha, who, it transpires, is in debt to the area kingpin Mr Gold, an all-powerful crime boss who may, it slowly becomes evident, be a figment of Jake's imagination. Or of the imaginations of Avi and Zach, who, it turns out, could equally be part of Jake's fictitious imaginings and musings. Naturally, there is potential here, but Ritchie gets mired in voice-over and ruminations on the construction of the self in the act of game playing. "The opponent distracts their victim by getting them consumed with their own consumption" is a choice nugget from Statham's increasingly irritating and redundant Jake. The film ultimately shudders to a halt after 115 minutes without narrative closure or satisfaction. It was followed, mercifully, by RocknRolla, which was both an amiable return to form and, for Ritchie at least, a last-minute reprieve from the depths of movie oblivion.

* Kevin Maher