RATING |

With Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore and André Benjamin. Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. 1 hour, 55 mins.

R

(violence, profanity, nudity, inanity, adult themes). Playing at Ritz at the Bourse.

Guy Ritchie's Revolver premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival two years ago September. That's 26 months on a shelf somewhere, depriving moviegoers the thrill of jaw-droppingly awful Ray Liotta line readings, of bloody shoot-outs, bags of money, cutaways to frosty babes sucking on lollipops, and even a bit of violent anime.

How did we live without it?

Starring the implacable, stylishly unshaven Jason Statham as an interior-monologuing ex-con bent on exacting revenge on a casino king named Macha (the aforementioned, eyeballs-bulging Liotta), Revolver presents itself as a kind of Zen riddle - a Zen riddle set in a world of high-stakes thuggery, money and drugs.

There are quotations from Machiavelli, brainiac chess stratagems, meditations on the ego and suicide, and some of the clunkiest gangland gab this side of a Martin Scorsese parody. Ritchie, who blazed onto the scene with the hip English mob pic Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - and who steered his wife, Madonna, through a most-dubious remake of Swept Away - pulls out all the stops, and still manages to bore us to tears.

Here's a sample Statham voice-over to wrap your noggin' around: "In every game and con there's always an opponent, and there's always a victim. The trick is to know when you're the latter, so you can become the former."

Anyone who buys a ticket to Revolver should know that he, or she, is most definitely the latter.

- Steven Rea