There are many things wrong with "Revolver," and one is that Jason Statham needs a haircut.
Statham, the erstwhile Transporter, lets his hair go long and stringy in "Revolver" and is thoroughly dull for the first time in his buzz-cut, butt-kicking career.
His listlessness is doubly bizarre, given that "Revolver" is written and directed by Guy Ritchie, who specializes in funny, uptempo crime thrillers. He did "Snatch" and "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," movies distinguished by Runyunesque gangland characters and a supercharged pace.
He appears to be attempting something similar in "Revolver," but it's a big-time misfire. Characters meant to be colorful are simply garish, and his plotting has gone from complex to simply pretentious.
Statham plays an ex-con named Jake Green, a modern-day Monte Cristo who used his time in jail to study the ways of two cellblock colleagues, known as super-genius confidence men (unexplained is how these unrivaled thinkers ended up in jail in the first place).
Once out, he uses his prison-honed con-man skills to accumulate wealth and to get revenge on the casino operator/crook (Ray Liotta) who sent him to prison.
This simple plotline is embroidered with another - two mystery hoods (Vincent Pastore, Andre Benjamin) shanghai Green and force him to divert his wealth into their loan-sharking operation, and also to raid and harass the casino boss' criminal sidelines.
You don't have to be Keyser Soze to figure out how the two plotlines fold together, which is maybe why Ritchie churns up the narrative flow with a lot of showboat editing and pointless flashback.
Worse is Ritchie's thematic inquiry into Green's motivation - Green wonders aloud if his need to take down the casino is driven by revenge, or some deeper need to demonstrate how clever he is.
This is meant to have universal resonance, but the movie's preoccupation with vanity and ego seems to have less to do with ordinary folk than with the rarified species on view here.
Liotta's character, for instance, spends half the movie inside a tanning booth, wearing nothing but a thong and eye-liner. This isn't a regular person. This is an entertainer. Of course, Ritchie's confusion is understandable. He's spent the last decade married to to Madonna. *
Produced by Luc Besson, Virginia Silla, written and directed by Guy Ritchie, music by Nathaniel Mechaly, distributed by Lionsgate.