This is the fourth feature film by Ritchie and his third to centre on crime and professional criminals. It was released in UK theatres on 22 September 2005. It performed poorly at the box office and received negative reviews but has gained a small cult following among fans of Guy Ritchie's previous crime films. A reworked version was released to a limited number of US theatres on 7 December 2007.
Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta) is a gang boss involved in illegal gambling all over the city. With the help of three goons, known as "the three Eddies", he controls several games that take place in the underground. On one occasion, just before a big game, Macha loses his card man. With no chances left, Macha asks for help of Jake Green (Jason Statham), a card man with a good reputation underground. When Jake refuses, they harass Jake's brother, Billy (Andrew Howard), and Billy's family to convince Jake to play. He succumbs and plays the game, which he ends up winning. The loser, a high roller named George, insults Jake's mother and Jake responds by shooting him in the foot, igniting a gunfight in which the game's money vanishes.
The police investigation is leading nowhere until Jake's name is mentioned and he is brought in for questioning. Taking precautionary measures, Macha sends the three Eddies to Billy's house where they threaten his niece. Billy's wife reacts poorly in the situation and is accidentally shot. Jake does not give Macha's name to the police to protect Billy and his family and ends up sentenced to prison. He is given a choice to either spend 14 years in general prison population or 7 years in solitary confinement. He chooses the latter.
During his seven-year stint imprisoned in solitary confinement Jake learns of a specific strategy (referred to as "The Formula") that is supposed to lead its user to win every game. The Formula itself was discovered by two unnamed men who inhabited adjacent cells on either side of Jake's own. They are referred to as a chess expert and a con man. During the first five years of his seven-year sentence, the three men communicated their thoughts on confidence tricks and chess moves via messages hidden inside library books, such as The Mathematics of Quantum Mechanics.
The chess expert and the con man plan to leave their cells simultaneously, and promise to take Jake with them. But when they disappear from their cells, they leave Jake behind to serve the remaining two years of his sentence. When Jake is released, he finds that all of his possessions and money have been taken by the two men with whom he had shared everything. Still, he has The Formula, and he goes about making a lot of money at various casinos. Two years later, Jake has garnered a reputation that leads many casinos to fear his freakishly good 'luck', and he is blacklisted by many casinos in fear that he will earn money in them. The Formula applies to any game, and is often exemplified by Jake's apparent mastery of chess. The story revolves around Jake's epiphanic awakening, as he learns how to apply the Formula to the 'game' of life.
Approximately two years after his prison release, Jake, Billy and their other brother Joe walk into one of Macha's casinos. He is recognised and "all the tables are closed" to Jake and company. But Macha promptly calls them up to a private area of his casino where a high rollers' game is currently taking place. Jake bets Macha a fortune on a chip toss, and wins. This hurts Macha. As Jake says "nothing hurts more than humiliation and a little money loss". Macha suspects that Jake, who seems unafraid of him, will be out for more revenge. As Jake and his brothers leave the casino, a man hands Jake a card and tells him that he can help him. Jake, who has a fear of enclosed spaces, decides to take the stairs. In the stairwell he looks at the card and then collapses, falling down the stairs. The card is revealed to read "Take the Elevator". Jake is rushed to the hospital. The doctors report he is very ill but do not disclose why he had the blackout.
Macha puts out an order for a hit on Jake. Jake arrives home, without Billy, to be welcomed by one of Macha's hits. However, on his doorstep there is another card, which says "Pick This Up". As Jake bends to retrieve the card bullets fly over his back. As the shooting continues, the same mysterious individual called Zach (Vincent Pastore) arrives and rescues Jake who is the only person to survive the hit. Zach introduces Jake to his partner, Avi (André Benjamin). They offer him a deal: they will take all of his money and he will do what they say, no questions asked. In exchange, they will protect Jake from Macha. In the course of their proposal, they show Jake his medical file, which they have mysteriously obtained. It indicates that the blackout occurred due to a rare blood disease which will cause his death within three days. Jake suspects a con. The mysterious men later reveal that his money will be used to fund their loan shark enterprise.
Sam Gold is seen to be the 'king' in this chess game of gang warfare. He is the ultimate figure that all men are supposedly aspiring to be. Sam Gold is revealed to be an ultimately powerless cipher, whose power is granted only by those who invest in him. He represents ego and self-investment. He is the personification of greed. It is revealed that Avi and Zach were Jake's "neighbours" during his years of incarceration. They have forced Jake to "induce head pain to engage the enemy" by making him give his money away under the principle that "nothing hurts more than humiliation and a little money loss". They are inflicting this form of 'premature enlightenment' upon Jake because, according to them, he was not ready to hear how hard this process of liberation was going to be while in prison. It was because of this that they left without him.
Avi attempts to get Jake to understand the nature of the ego. He tells Jake "the greatest con that [the ego] ever pulled was making you believe that he is you." This is seen to be the 'ultimate con', in that no-one wants to sever their connection with their ego, because they refuse to challenge their own lifelong investment in it. In the end, Jake also steps off the proverbial chess board by making a conscious effort to reverse everything his ego tells him to do. This is seen to be the truest and most fundamental application of the Formula. The characters of Jake, Zach, Avi and Sorter (Mark Strong) are seen to ultimately reject the ego's 'rules'. The character of Dorothy Macha is seen to succumb to them.Jason Statham as Jake Green
Ray Liotta as Dorothy Macha
Vincent Pastore as Zach
André Benjamin as Avi
Mark Strong as Sorter
Tom Wu as Lord John
Terrence Maynard as French Paul
Andrew Howard as Billy
Francesca Annis as Lily Walker
Anjela Lauren Smith as Doreen
Elana Binysh as Rachel
Guy Ritchie was, during the time of conceiving and executing the film, interested in Kabbalah. The film itself is laced with references to Kabbalistic ideas, symbols and numerological references.
The trinity of Zach (either from Hebrew זְכַרְיָה Zechariah ′Yah has remembered′ or יִצְחָק Yitskhak [Isaac] '[he] will laugh'), Jake (from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב Yaʿaqov [Jacob] from the root עקב ʿqb 'to follow', 'to be behind', 'to supplant', 'circumvent', 'assail', 'overreach') and Avi (Hebrew אֲבִי ′my father′) are representative of Kabbalistic right, centre and left pillar energies, respectively. Avi is a black man who is somewhat effeminate in his physical appearance, clothing and mannerisms. The 'left pillar' or 'left column' in Kabbalistic traditions is often associated with 'the feminine' and with the colour black. Jake's surname is "Green", and the colour green is associated with the central column or pillar in Kabbalistic traditions. Zach is a hefty, gargantuan, white man who 'dresses down' in a very archetypically 'masculine' way. Both masculinity and the colour white are associated with right column or right pillar energies in Kabbalistic traditions.
The number 32 comes up repeatedly. "The chess game has many mystical meanings. The Temple of Solomon was chequered like a chess board, which has 64 squares and 32 pieces." The lift that Jake enters near the end of the movie has buttons for 32 floors. The dollar bills shown in Jack's money bags have a denomination of 23.
According to director Guy Ritchie, the music for the film was initially intended to follow in a similar vein to his previous crime movies, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, in that it was to be primarily source-based (i.e. using non-original music). Those source tracks would all have been classical in nature. However, during the production process, Ritchie changed his mind and decided to score a majority of the film with original music, leaving only some small sections to non-original music tracks (such as the restaurant shoot-out during Lord John's attempted assassination of Dorothy Maccha). Ritchie selected Nathaniel Mechaly to compose the score.
The score was performed by Mechaly on Mini Moog and other keyboards, with drummer Maxime Garoute.
All tracks composed by Nathaniel Mechaly and Maxime Garoute except where otherwise noted.
Extra featured director Guy Ritchie.
The Concept: an interview with director Guy Ritchie and editor James Herbert on the subject of the film's conceptual and editorial development.
The Game: The Making Of Revolver
Stills gallery (over 100 stills against film soundtrack).
7 deleted scenes with director's commentary.
Dolby Digital 5.1
DTS Digital Surround 5.1
2.35 Widescreen / Color
Revolver is currently available in both Regions 1 & 2 on DVD.
Region 2 is the original 2005 theatrical release, while Region 1 is the 2007 reedited version, created by Ritchie to simplify and/or clarify some plot points after criticism that the film was too hard to follow.
- "Revolver" – 03:58
- "Later That Night" – 02:02
- "Atom's Tomb" (Electrelane) – 02:11
- "The Heist" – 02:52
- "Fear Me" – 03:42
- "Mucchio Selvaggio" (Ennio Morricone, performed by 2raumwohnung) – 05:06
- "Chess Room" – 02:03
- "Sorter Shoot Out" – 01:56
- "Purple Requiem" – 04:00
- "3 Eddie Story" – 02:40
- "End Casino" – 02:50
- "Opera" (from Antonio Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus, third movement, performed by Emmanuel Santarromana) – 04:03
- "Casino" – 01:54
- "Jack Accident" – 02:02
- "The Mental Traveler" – 04:08
- "To Never Miss" – 01:18
- "Ask Yourself" (Plastikman) – 08:51
- "Gnossienne No. 1" (from Erik Satie performed by Alessandra Celletti) – 04:18
- "Metropolitan" (Emmanuel Santarromana) – 3:18
The film was generally panned by critics: for example, it has been criticised on grounds of pretension and having an over-complicated plot by critics such as Mark Kermode. Reviews were so poor in the UK that The Guardian ran a story on how the distributor managed to attribute a quotation to The Sun saying that the director was "back to his best". The quotation came from a section of the Sun Online website created by a PR agency on behalf of the film's distributors.
There are some positive reviews as well. Mark R. Leeper conceded that it was "a film for a narrow audience", but said that he personally rather "liked it" and gave it a score of 7/10. According to Brian Orndorf, Revolver "is the perfect movie for those who like to crack things open and dig around the innards", saying that it "reminded [him] quite a bit of Richard Kelly's film, Donnie Darko". He goes on to explain that "both films have a taste for the deliberately confusing, sharing scripts that take the viewer on a ride that requires much more than one simple viewing."
As of 20 December 2005 the film had grossed $6,811,925.