Monday, September 07, 2009

REVOLVER (2005) - Am I free man?

Two recent watches have been an eye opening experience for this old movie nut. Both were movies recommended to me by a friend and both were quite good- but both were highly derivative of other, older movies or television.

First up was Guy Ritchie’s 2005 film REVOLVER starring Jason Statham and Ray Liotta. At first glance it appears to be of a piece with Ritchie’s usual British crime tales such as SNATCH, LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and ROCK N ROLLA. But by the mid-point it becomes clear that there is much more than stylistic camera tricks, clever criminal plots and snappy dialog on the director’s mind this time out. Mysterious, nameless characters begin to call the shots, a never seen Mr. Big lurks behind the scenes and the motivation of the main character is called into question. And all the while games of chess are played and serious philosophical musings weave nicely into the narrative. By the end I smiled with twin realizations- I understand completely why a mass audience would hate REVOLVER and it struck me that what Ritchie was up to was destined to fail commercially no matter what. He has done what I would have though was unthinkable until recently- he has crafted his own version of Patrick McGoohan’s brilliant 1960s TV series THE PRISONER right down to the final revelation about Mr. Gold and Mr. Green. He’s thrown in a number of other ideas about wealth and its worship and then spiced it with a 21st century cinematic style but the movie’s debt to THE PRISONER is huge. I urge fans of the classic McGoohan series to check this movie out and judge for yourself. Even if you’ve never enjoyed Ritchie’s films before I suspect that this one has enough meat on its bones to have you chewing for a good long while. It will at least get you to thinking about your own view of the world and your place in it.

"The only way to get better at the game is to play someone who is better than you."

Film number two later......

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