Guy Ritchie's first film was roundly praised as hip and witty, catching the attention of Madonna. His second was initially praised, then ultimately chided as too similar to the first. His third was a total departure -- mooring now-wife Madonna on an island, inviting merciless laughter, and inadvertently confirming his status as a one-trick pony. So it must have been a surprise that Ritchie's fourth film, a return to guns and cutesy gangster nicknames, would go largely undiscussed altogether. Revolver comes across as a muted version of his Snatch schtick, as if the critical derision shamed him into turning down the volume a few levels. Whatever technique he doesn't spend on empty flair, however, he instead squanders on empty philosophizing, as Revolver dips into dime-store existentialism and lazy head-tripping. That's in addition to the usual stuff: assassins who can't miss; gangsters who talk in riddles; Jason Statham brooding fiercely, but with more hair than he's had since he was a teenager. The movie starts with Statham in full-on Crank mode, diagnosed with a blood illness that will kill him in three days. That red herring is dropped as quickly as anything else Ritchie dabbles with and discards -- including a sequence told partly in animation, which seems like Ritchie's attempt to rip off the Kill Bill movies. (If that weren't enough Tarantino, Statham is referred to as "Mr. Green," in a can't-be-coincidental nod to Reservoir Dogs.) As for the actual plot...well, some guys steal some money from some other guys, some drugs go missing, some people shoot some other people -- and that's just the part that makes sense. Even the title is merely an empty gesture toward the fetishized iconography of gun violence. Ritchie's substance may never catch up with his style, but now, even his style is boring.
by Derek Armstrong review