Continuing his fascination with a comic-bookishly hardboiled British underworld, Guy Ritchie is Frank Miller with an English accent. With Revolver, the writer-director and his co-writer, the filmmaker Luc Besson—who has his own comic-book aesthetic, heaven knows—try to intellectualize that material, with a journey-to-center-of-the-mind treatise on ego and identity. But when comic books get intellectual, you'd better be Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore and not Miller, since Miller time is about mid-adolescence.
In this widely panned 2005 British release inexplicably being distributed here to theatres rather than direct-to-video or cable, con man Jake Green (an actually engaging Jason Statham) is released from prison, where he spent time in solitary intercepting messages passed between the two inmates in his adjacent cells. Two years later, Green has gambled and conned his way to a small fortune, and wants revenge on casino owner and crime boss Macha (Ray Liotta). The blustery Macha, in turn, keeps ordering henchman French Paul (Terence Maynard) to grease Green. The reason he has to keep placing that order is because two mysterious, seemingly mystical loan sharks, Avi (André Benjamin) and Zach (Vincent Pastore), keep giving Green advance warning of imminent danger and death, such as placing a card on Green's front stoop reading "Pick me up"—causing Green to bend over and just miss getting mowed down by a shotgun blast kabooming through the door.
In one of many strained and unexplained plot contrivances, Avi and Zach convince Jake he's dying and to hand over all his money and be their lapdog. Jake, for unclear reasons, agrees. He gets dragged along on sub-Ocean's Eleven capers in which the twosome seem to be able to get in and out of anywhere and use equipment akin to the Warner Bros. Coyote's Acme gear, except that it all works. Through all the episodic escapades, Jake just keeps trying to figure out what's going on, and how and if he's being played.
So does the audience. Some early-on hints of a Matrix-like larger world get raised, with a promising narration that's an existential monologue on the whys and wherefore of life. And the look of the film is stylish and original, with anime inserts, in one heist scene, that must have been sort of cutting-edge in 2005 when this movie first got distributed. But Revolver bogs down badly less than halfway through in a repetitious loop of navel-gazing that seems to indicate the title isn't about a gun but about our going ’round and ’round the circle of life, man. There's also not a lot of what you'd call dialogue—just tough-guy pronouncements like "I'm stuck in a trance between Hell and a hard place." Yeah, and so was I, for 106 minutes.