Monday, May 5, 2008


What the hell happened to Guy Ritchie? *Cough* Madonna *Cough.* Ritchie was at one point one of the hottest young filmmakers in the world; the one-two punch of LOCK, STOCK, & TWO SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH was a sensational way to start a filmmaking career. Then he did a snazzy entry in the BMW films series, which happened to star his very famous wife. Then, the debacle that was SWEPT AWAY; never before have a I seen a film that seemed so out of step with a filmmaker's style and range. A travesty on pretty much all levels, the film has sort of served as a GIGLI-esque reminder for Ritchie that with one massive flop, a director's career can be cut short (Marty Brest, where are ya?). Ritchie's most recent film, REVOLVER (*1/2), was released in the UK in 2006 and never had a proper theatrical release in the United States. Having now seen it, I can see why. The film has just been released on DVD so I checked it out, hoping that it would be a return to form for the stylish filmmaker. Sadly, REVOLVER feels like a retread of spare parts from LOCK, STOCK and SNATCH and just about every other low-budget British gangster thriller from the past few years. A cool, sturdy, manly cast including Ritchie-regular Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, and Andre Benjamin is mostly wasted in this tired tale of card sharks, gangsters, henchmen, and guns. Statham is an ex-con looking to exact revenge on a gangster, played by Liotta, who has killed his sister-in-law and damaged his thug life. There are double-crosses, mysterious characters who appear, disappear, and reappear throughout the film, and an ending that wasn't nearly as satisfying as it could have been. As self-consciously reflexive yet nowhere near as thrilling as Tony Scott's deconstructionist action-movie masterwork DOMINO, REVOLVER wants to have its cake and eat it too. The film has pent-up energy and flashes of mad-dog intensity but in service of nothing new, exciting, or remotely coherent. REVOLVER dips into Tony Scott world with flash-forwards and jump-cuts and flashbacks and hyper-edits, but all of it adds up to exactly nothing in the end. It's yet another flashy, heavily-stylized shoot 'em up with nothing fresh to add to the genre. Unless you're going to go all-out ala RUNNING SCARED or decimate the genre through an ingenious screenplay as in DOMINO or make fun of the genre as in CRANK or SHOOT 'EM UP, there isn't much left to this style of storytelling. Ritchie needs to try something new, but maybe that's the problem. When he tried something new, like SWEPT AWAY, he failed miserably. Now that he's struck out in the genre he was once a master of, what's left? Another trip to the well apparently, as his new British crime flick ROCK 'N ROLLA is due for release next year. Maybe REVOLVER was a minor slip before he settles back into his groove. I hope so. I'd like to see Ritchie kick my ass with a crime caper like he has in the past.

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