“Revolver” with Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore, Andre Benjamin, Terrence Maynard, and Mark Strong

Directed by Guy Ritchie, Written by Luc Besson (adaptation) & Guy Ritchie

Revolver movie posterGuy Ritchie is easily one of my favorite directors.  After being introduced to “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” in high school by my best friend my cinema sphere increased ever so slightly and (save for “Swept Away”) I have since gone onto to watch all of Guy Ritchie’s films.  The very first time I watched “Revolver” I didn’t get it, and thus I didn’t like it.  (Higher thought at its finest, eh?)

However, the other evening my girlfriend and I sat down and watched it.  It was her first viewing and my second, but with a fresh perspective and several years this viewing was revelatory.  I would also like to mention that I had also just finished the game “Bioshock Infinite,” which touches on topics of a similar nature.  Except, in “Bioshock” the protagonist, Booker DeWitt, faces his own ego in the literal sense–an alternate version of himself, divulged from a single event.  I find this important, because with my mind still reeling from the plot of “Bioshock Infinite,” perhaps my mind was more open to a film concerning the confrontation of one’s ego.

The top layer plot of “Revolver” is fairly straightforward, especially when considering Ritchie’s past films.  It follows Jake Green (Jason Statham) after a seven-year stint in solitary.  During his time in solitary he ‘meets’ the prisoners in the cells on either side of his due to the interception of secretly passed notes via daily book drops.  One of the aforementioned prisoners is a chess master, the other a master con artist.

With the promise of the three of them escaping together, Green shares quite a bit of personal information with the other two cellmates.  Eventually, the chess master and the master con artist escape without Jake, leaving him in solitary for another two-years.  Upon Jake’s release he discovers that all of his money and worthy-belongings have been taken by the two other prisoners and any hint of them is two-years old.

However, he was imparted one gift from them–a working game theory.  Essentially, it is a list of rules that govern the literal and figurative ‘game.’  They can be applied to win chess, poker, or any game of chance, but given the right person they could be used to control events, scenarios, and the outcomes of life.

Some backstory: Jake Green was put away because of Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta), and after learning the ‘rules’ from the chess master and master con artist, he builds up his own personal wealth again after being released from prison.  After enough time and money has been built, Green decides to enact his revenge against Macha by humiliating him and conning him out of some money.

Revolver 01

Green is successful, but this singularity sets off a chain of events that inevitably pits Macha against Green, involves the unseen Mr. Gold, and includes the mysterious chess player and con artist from Green’s past in a film that not only tells of rival gangsters and loan sharks, but one that pits men against themselves in a battle of wits and ego.

“Revolver” is stunningly shot.  There are some truly superb moment of cinematography that play into Ritchie’s British, gangster-flick wheelhouse perfectly.  However, “Revolver” isn’t your typical gangster film.  The plot isn’t as twisty or grandiose as Ritchie’s past endeavors, but it instead focuses on the more surreal.  The heart of the plot is in Green’s confrontation of his ego and Macha’s embrace of his.  What are the consequences of this, and how can we separate ourselves from our own worst enemy–our ego?

It’s an immense topic to tackle, but Ritchie pulls it off with some clever writing and some amazing cinematography.  If you want something a little trippy and surreal with a crime flavor check out Guy Ritchie’s “Revolver.”

“Drive” and “Killer Elite”

“Drive” with Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, and Ron Perlman (2011)


“Drive” is one of those movies that you either really dig it, or it just kind of flops for ya.  Personally, I didn’t find it to be the worst movie on the planet, but I definitely didn’t dig it.  As a Cannes film festival contender, “Drive’ is very neo-noir and European Art House.  There are many shots that are supposed to come off as edgy and unique, but instead they create an inconsistent tone that rises and falls throughout the film.  At points it works and compliments the plot as well as the violence, and at other times it falls flat by trying to be something more that it is.

Ryan Gosling plays the lead character, which remains unnamed throughout the film.  I reckon that the intention was to create such an iconic character that his mere presence would be remembered, almost akin to Edward Norton in “Fight Club,” Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” Clint Eastwood in a many a film, etc. etc.  There were certain set pieces like his Scorpion jacket that add to the characters mystery and aura, but we’ll see if Ryan Gosling’s driver holds up to Clint Eastwood in the future.

The plot centers on Gosling as he becomes increasingly entangled with his boss’s (Bryan Cranston) mob problems/connections and his love interest that lives down the hall from him (who also strangely enough as a connection to the same criminal ringleader via her husband).

I don’t want to delve too much into specific scenes or the meat of the plot, because in all honestly you might appreciate the bits that I didn’t.  It’s just one of those films that needs to be checked out by curious.  Personally, I won’t be watching it again; it just didn’t creep up my alley, which is surprising considering it’s a Cannes film.  I’m usually quite partial to indies.

Killer Elite” with Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen (2011)


“Killer Elite” is one of those films that had almost no buzz or PR in the U.S., so it inevitably fell underneath the radar for most folks.  However, after walking through my local movie rental store time and time again, passing by a cover graced by Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, and Clive Owen–I had to check it out.

The plot isn’t jaw dropping by any means, but it is excellently executed.  Essentially, Danny (Jason Statham) and Hunter (Robert De Niro) are retired SAS and work as assassins for hire.  After finally getting out of the game and settling down Hunter is captured setting in motion a turn of events that forces Danny to come out of retirement and hunt down three other assassins in an effort to free his mentor and friend.  Supposedly “Killer Elite” is based upon a novel by Sir Ranulph Fiennes entitled, “The Feather Men” that was highly disputed and controversial during the time of its UK release in 1991.  Lets just say that the British weren’t too happy about “The Feather Men’s” contents.

Nevertheless, the film adaptation of the novel holds its own.  It’s a great romp through the inner workings of espionage, shadowy groups, assassins, mercenaries, and false fronts.  “Killer Elite” also has one of the best fight scenes that I’ve seen in recent history.  Statham squares off against two adversaries whilst tied to a chair–it beckoned awesomeness.  To paraphrase my “Safe House” review you can’t go wrong with Denzel Washington Robert De Niro.

“Snatch,” “Mission Impossible II,” and “Sunshine”

Because of my previous snow experiences, detailed in my last post, I was unable to update my cinematic adventuring log–and, “yes” it is of the yuletide variety.  So here are the last three films I watched and my little blurbs about them:

Snatch” with Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, and Vinnie Jones (2000) 


“Snatch” is one of my favorite films of all time.  Guy Ritchie manages to weave several subplots into one grandiose plot that often ends in a particularly clever manner.  The casting is always top notch, and with the exception of “Swept Away,” I have never left a theater feeling disappointed after viewing a Ritchie film.  Jason Statham’s storyline is essentially the main narrative in which several seemingly unrelated storylines swirl about all ultimately tying into one another.  Brad Pitt’s role of Mickey the Gypsy, especially stands out in “Snatch”—Mickey drives the plot of the film by creating the initial predicament.  More often than not, Mickey is almost all but indiscernible and Statham’s character, Turkish, along with his best friend Tommy remark on this quite often creating quite a few chuckles along the way.  But, what Mickey lacks in communication he more than makes up with his bare-knuckle boxing talents.  Overall, if you enjoy a great British gangster flick, set in modern-day London, with a wide, all-star cast then this is the movie for you.

At the time my girlfriend hadn’t watched “Snatch,” so yesterday evening I decided to pop it in and revisit and old friend to make introductions.  I could watch it a hundred times over and still want more; I highly recommend it.


Mission Impossible 2” with Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Thandie Newton (2000)


My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of attending a showing of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” before Christmas and we absolutely loved it!  It is astounding.  The plot is tight, the visuals are phenomenal, and the cast is astounding.  In light of such a great action film we decided to roll it on back and watch “Ghost Protocol’s” predecessors to see if they hold even a lick of a flame to its newest iteration.  The verdict—they do.  We watched the ‘original’ “Mission Impossible” before I rolled out my “Cinematic Adventuring” page, but I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.  Enough time had elapsed that I hardly remembered the plot, so it was as if I was watching it for the first time. 

The other week we finally purchased “Mission Impossible II” to fill in the missing gap of our collection and within the evening we were already accepting a new mission to undertake.  The plot of is fairly cliché (it may not have been at the time—after all its been twelve years!) and revolves around a terrorist cell headed by a rogue IMF agent stealing a genetically altered strain of Influenza and its cure in order to blackmail the company it was stolen from.  Tom Cruise reprises his role of Ethan Hunt and plays off the suave super spy to the ‘T.’ However, I found his love interest, played by Thandie Newton, an all right choice for the part, but the chemistry between the two was sorely lacking.  There is a scene in which Newton is stealing a priceless necklace and Cruise interjects mid-operation.  It is the first time they meet and the chemistry bubbles briefly as they jockey back and forth in a bathtub as she cracks the safe where the necklace is stored.  However, afterwards their relationship seems to lack the same chemistry and subsequently their relationship doesn’t translate well throughout the rest of the film.  Overall, the finale is probably the best part of the film.  Director John Woo does an excellent job choreographing a stellar motorcycle scene and hand-to-hand combat finish that holds up surprisingly well after twelve years of innovations.  If you love action films (which I do) then take another gander at this one—it’ll surprise you.


“Sunshine” with Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans (2007)


“Sunshine” is one of the films that might have slipped under the radar for most.  It didn’t have a huge opening considering its cast and art direction, but even without the marketing giant behind it—it is an amazing film.  Essentially the plot is as follows—in the near future our sun is dying.  The Earth has plunged into a solar winter creating snowfall over the entirety of the globe.  The Sydney Opera House is buried by it.  Humanity has decided to pull all of its resources together and build a ship and a bomb that’ll essentially create a new sun in the place of our dying one.  The ship’s name is the Icarus I (I love a good Greek mythology reference, especially one so apropos).  The ship and its crew didn’t make it, and the sun was never restarted.  “Sunshine” follows the Icarus II; the second attempt to save humanity.  This is the last ditch effort for humanity.  If the Icarus II fails, then so does humanity.

Cillian Murphy plays the physicist who invented the experimental bomb and Chris Evans plays the hot headed, but objective, pilot.  The two of them do not get along and numerous squabbles arise out of this conflict.  The Icarus II comes across the Icarus as it nears the surface of the sun.  After seven years the Icarus I is almost inoperable, but the crew decides to detour in an effort to increase their chances of success by obtaining the first Icarus’ bomb.  Obvious complications become of this detour and the film briefly dives into the heart of the Survival Horror genre.

However, at its core, this film is not really Science Fiction or Survival Horror movie.  ”Sunshine” is about the human race, about sacrifice, and about the meaning life and death.  A superb under tone of religion, or lack thereof depending on perspective, is wonderfully woven throughout the film.  Cillian Murphy’s performance is outstanding and Chris Evans really steps outside of his comfort zone and the risk pays off.

All-in-all “Sunshine” can be a depressing experience, but watching the film through and through is well worth it.  Thinking of life and death is necessary at times.  A rate this a “must watch.”

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