The movie Revolver was panned in England where it was released. It got 1/2 out of 5 stars. Only after adding some scenes and re-editing did it come the U.S., but even then, no one saw it. In fact, now it’s available to watch on the Internet for free. So what happened?
Directed by Guy Ritchie and written by Luc Besson it had great bones and should have been terrific. It starred Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, and a whole host of British baddies I recognize from other bad guys movies, so it should have been interesting. Guy Ritchie films have a certain style to them that I appreciate. He’s sort of the love child of Akira Kurosawa and Quentin Tarantino, so I approached Revolver with that sort of anticipation.
But Ritchie pulled a David Lynch. And the problem is that he’s not a David Lynch (known for impenetrable “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”-inspired dream-like movies such as Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire and Lost Highway).
Which is why I probably loved the movie where everyone else hated it.
So what’s the big deal about Revolver and why have you never heard of it, you ask?
Here’s a little spoilage. Not a lot. Just a bit. But I need to set the stage so I can talk about story construction. IMDB has a very credible synopsis , so I won’t repeat what it’s already said. Instead, let me talk about the throughline and what Luc Besson and Guy Ritchie manage to achieve. I’ll wait here while you read it and return. Ready. Set. Go!
The movie’s plot or throughline is about one man being tricked into helping another. Two men convince a second set of two men, in this case, major gangsters, that they are out to get each other. Filled with terrific Guy Ritchie action and dialogue, the movie has everything I love.
But the subplot is what elevates it to greatness. Interwoven like a sine wave along the plotline is the idea that ego can so take control of you that it can turn your life into a game. It further states that if you listen to it, you become a victim of yourself. You’ll also find aspects of numerology and the Kabbalah heavily influenced the film and were used to construct the subplot. It’s a pretty complicated idea, probably why English seemed to dislike it and it was only shown on 18 screens in the U.S. It was definitely hard to, as they say, grok.
But the majesty of the construction of the movie is that while you’re watching the action of the plot, the subplot is weaving through and past you, so well, that in the end, the plot doesn’t really matter at all. It was the subplot all along that was the most important. In this case, I think the disservice to both the plot and the subplot came with the ending. If you’re going to try and do something like Ritchie did, you’re going to have to wrap it up a little more neatly. Nothing lets an audience or a reader get what you’re trying to say than a little denouement after the conclusion of the action. (But then again David Lynch gets away with it all the time.)
This sine wave throughline construction, my friends, takes skill, especially when we are so wrapped up in the plot (or “the game” as the movie says), that we discover all the things we missed, only too late. Similar films include Donnie Darko and The Usual Suspects.
Have you seen it? What are your thoughts? Did Ritchie out-Lynch Lynch? Do you want to know where you can see it for free?
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Weston Ochse’s last name is pronounced “oaks.” Together with his first name, it sounds like a stately trailer park. He is the author of nine novels, most recently SEAL Team 666. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. For fun he races tarantula wasps and watches the black helicopters dance along the horizon.
Read all posts by Weston Ochse for Criminal Element.