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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Guy Ritchie
Cast:
Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, André Benjamin, Terence Maynard, Andrew Howard, Mark Strong, Francesca Annis
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson (adaptation), Guy Ritchie

Tagline:
The greatest trick that he ever pulled was making you believe that he is you.

Synopsis:
Director Guy Ritchie brings you this no holds barred urban, crime-thriller featuring an all-star cast of gangster movie icons including Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore and Outkast's Andre Benjamin. Jake Green is a hotshot gambler, long on audacity and short on common sense. He's rarely allowed to play in any casino because he is a winner and has taken in so much money over the years. He is the only client of his accountant and older brother Billy. One night, Jake, Billy and their other brother Joe are invited to sit in on a private game, where Jake is expected to lose to Dorothy Macha, a crime boss and local casino owner who can't play for squat, but always wins because people are too scared to beat him. Jake isn't afraid of Macha, and not only beats Dorothy in a quick game of chance, but takes every possible opportunity to insult the man. Jake and his brothers leave the game, and Macha puts out the order for a hit on Jake, who ends up working for and being protected by a pair of brothers, Avi and Zack, who are out to take Macha down.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$41.829 thousand on 18 screens.
Domestic Gross
$75.420 thousand.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $24.96
Release Date: 3/18/2008

Supplements:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Guy Ritchie and Editor James Herbert
• “The Game: The Making of Revolver” Featurette
• “Revolver: Making the Music” Featurette
• “The Concept” Featurette
• Seven Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Outtakes
• Photo Gallery
• Music Trailer
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Revolver (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 17, 2008)

Back before he became best known as “Mr. Madonna”, Guy Ritchie boasted a promising career as a filmmaker. He tries to reclaim some of that credibility with 2007’s Revolver.

Jake Green (Jason Statham) gets out of jail after seven years. Why did he serve this time? Because a crime boss named Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta) got him sent there. When Jake emerges, he wins a ton of money from Macha in a game of chance. That doesn’t exactly sit well with Macha.

A rare blood disorder leaves Jake with only three days to live – and Macha’s minions on the go to off him even before then. A couple of loan sharks named Avi (Andre Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore) agree to help Jake stick it to Macha before he goes, but not without a substantial price. Jake has to give them every cent he owns and assist them in their activities in exchange for their assistance. The movie follows these endeavors along with a whole lot of twists.

Sad confession: the only Ritchie flick I saw before Revolver was 2002’s much reviled Madonna indulgence Swept Away. Why did I never get around to seeing Ritchie’s better-received movies like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? Dunno – just didn’t.

So Revolver marked my first experience with the gritty style that made Ritchie famous in the first place. However, from what I understand, this wasn’t just “Ritchie by numbers”, as I get the impression Revolver provides a more intricate piece.

One drawback of this job comes from the time demands it imposes. The site’s a demanding mistress, so I come under constant pressure to pump out review after review. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for “pleasure viewing” – or going back to check out the same movie twice.

In the case of Revolver, however, I was tempted to give it a second look. The movie throws a lot at us and ensures that it becomes darned difficult for the first-time viewer to make sense of it all. I think that especially becomes true if you expect a more straightforward experience. For instance, when I went into The Usual Suspects for the first time, I knew of its reputation as a flick that required constant attention. I entered Revolver with nothing more than the thought that I’d get a violent, stylized action piece, not something so dense and convoluted. By the time I understood what Revolver wanted to be, it was too late for me to play catch-up.

Is this purposefully ambiguous filmmaking – or just a muddled mess that uses alleged complexity to mask weak storytelling? I’ll be damned if I know. It could go either way, or combine both. I’m inclined to side with the filmmaker and believe that he meant to make such a dense tale, but I certainly won’t begrudge those who find Revolver to be excessively obtuse.

Actually, the movie does explain itself to us in the end credits. I could live without this segment. In it, some psychologists discuss… well, I won’t get specific, but basically they make sure we understand the point of the story. The interviews wrap up things too neatly and feel a bit patronizing. I know that may not sound like a logical complaint because I indicated that the film itself doesn’t tell a terribly coherent tale, but the manner in which the credits summarize its themes feels too tidy for my liking.

In any case, I do know that Ritchie creates a consistently interesting experience, and he certainly manages to offer a good spin on what could’ve been a tired reiteration of the usual crime/revenge story. A quick perusal of Internet comments reveals a serious “love it or hate it” vibe. Some see the film as a rich, intricate piece, while others view it as pretension, gimmicky nonsense.

Where do I land on that side of the dividing line? Right now I’m more inclined to rate Revolver on the positive side, if just because I enjoyed it. However, it remains entirely possible that this could change with a second viewing. On one hand, I might find greater support for the film’s alleged complexity, as a repeat examination might reveal the filmmakers’ plans more completely. On the other hand, I might see that the critics were right and the emperor has no clothes; perhaps Revolver really is shoddy storytelling wrapped up in pretensions.

I take the polarization as a good thing, since at least it means that Revolver inspires reactions and passion. Given how many ho-hum movies exist – ones that you forget before the credits finish rolling – I see this as positive. Love it or hate it, Revolver forces you to pay attention and think.

Release date footnote: Revolver enjoyed a limited US theatrical run in 2007, so I went with that year for identification purposes. However, it played much of the rest of the world back in 2005.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Revolver appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 5:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The film boasted a consistently good transfer.

Only a few minor issues affected sharpness. I noticed a little softness in some wide shots, but those didn’t create many distractions. Most of the flick appeared concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement remained minor. In addition, source flaws were absent from this clean presentation.

Colors worked well. A few stylized elements popped up – such as those with heavy red or blue lighting – but much of the movie featured brighter, more dynamic tones. The hues were lively and vibrant throughout the flick. Blacks came across as deep and distinctive, while shadows were smooth and well-rendered. Overall, the image seemed satisfying.

Even better, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Revolver excelled. The soundfield used all five channels to great advantage throughout the film. Music blasted from the front and rears to pump the adrenaline, and effects showed strong localization and integration. The many action sequences brought out the best material, but more introspective elements also added a lot to the piece.

In addition, the track sounded very good. Music fared well, as the score and songs were dynamic and vivid throughout the flick. Effects were also concise and powerful. They lacked distortion, and both music and effects showed excellent low-end response. Speech was distinctive and crisp at all times. I really liked this involving and active soundtrack.

When we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Guy Ritchie and editor James Herbert. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the project’s origins and themes, sets and locations, story elements, metaphors and interpretation, various psychological concepts, and a few production details.

You know how most directors avoid divulging too much about what their films mean? That ain’t Ritchie. Oh, he occasionally holds back, partly to leave something open to viewer interpretation and partly because the subject is too rich to cover adequately in a commentary. However, most of the chat finds Ritchie in interpretive mode, as he digs into the psychological meaning of the film and its various notions.

Which is fine with me, and I expect most other viewers will feel the same way. Ritchie handles all of this with humor and charm, so the medicine goes down easily. Heck, he even addresses the film’s critics – and does so in a rather diplomatic manner. Herbert occasionally throws in his two cents, but Ritchie dominates this consistently engaging commentary.

Seven Deleted/Extended Scenes fill a total of 23 minutes, 52 seconds. These include “Alternate Opening Sequence” (2:40), “Extended Chess Game” (3:32), “White Knickers” (1:29), “Extended Rooftop Golf” (4:54), “Alternate Lord John Assassination” (2:45), “Extended Elevator” (4:55) and “Alternate Ending” (3:34). Some of these are just more explicit versions of existing sequences in terms of narrative; they make some of the movie’s themes more obvious. I can’t say any of them do anything for me. As for the “Ending”, it’s really more of a coda in which we see quotes about perceptions of reality placed over graphic crime scene photos. No thanks.

We also find a four-minute and two-second collection of Outtakes. It’s mostly the usual set of goofs and silliness, so take it as you want.

Three featurettes follow. The Game: The Making of Revolver runs 24 minutes, 30 seconds and provides remarks from Ritchie and actors Jason Statham, Vincent Pastore, and Andre Benjamin. “Game” gives us some characters and story notes, themes and symbolism, script changes and Ritchie’s style on the set, the movie’s look and design, sets and locations, stunts and a few general production thoughts.

For the most part, “Game” talks a lot but doesn’t say much. It prattles on about fairly uninformative subjects and fails to deliver much insight about the movie. Some of the shots from the set are fun to see, but this ends up as a disappointing show.

Revolver: Making the Music goes for 14 minutes, eight seconds and includes Ritchie, composer Nathaniel Mechaly, soundtrack producer Jerome Lateur. We get some info about the score and its recording. A few decent notes emerge here, but the show worries too much about a flashy style. That aspect makes it less substantial than it should be.

For the last featurette, we get the 16-minute and 14-second The Concept: An Interview with Writer/Director Guy Ritchie and Editor James Herbert. In this, they discuss how Herbert came onto the project, editing specifics, cinematic inspirations, the film’s animation, and the movie’s reception. Since they already did a commentary, I thought this chat would be redundant. To my pleasant surprise, Herbert and Ritchie find a lot of new ground to cover here, primarily because editing becomes the focal point. This becomes a solid little piece.

Some stills appear in a Photo Gallery. In all, 55 shots appear, and these come from the set as well as the film. Not many of them seem terribly interesting.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-ray Discs, Southland Tales and Slipstream. These also appear under the Previews domain along with promos for Cleaner and Snatch. Though the set includes a music trailer, it doesn’t present the theatrical ad for Revolver.

Some view Revolver as an intellectual action film, whole others take it as little more than a load of pretentious claptrap. I fall closer to the first camp, as I think the movie manages to create an interesting twist on a well-worn genre. The DVD provides very good picture and audio as well as a few extras highlighted by an informative audio commentary. Revolver won’t be for everyone, but I think it deserves a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4516 Stars Number of Votes: 31
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main