Author Topic: Revolver (2005) - a review  (Read 25856 times)

Cain

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Revolver (2005) - a review
« on: March 10, 2010, 05:41:06 pm »
Revolver is a Guy Ritchie film you’ve likely never heard of.  And there are reasons for this.  Firstly, it bombed at the Box Office.  Secondly, it appears to be yet another tiresome con-man with a heart of gold getting one up on his enemies crime film.  And thirdly, it stars Jason “can’t do accents” Statham, best known for the “so bad they’re good” Crank films, and lead actor in a variety of B-films where the ability to speak with a low voice and convincingly hit people is rated above acting skills.

(Note: spoilers abound)


However, only the first one of these is really accurate.  Revolver is far from your average crime thriller, in fact, it’s not really about crime at all.

The first suggestion this film might be more than it appears is in the opening credits.  As Statham is being marched out of prison, we see a number of quotes appear on the screen.  The first reads:

“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look” – Julius Caesar, 75 B.C.

The second is:

“The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent.”  - Fundamentals of Chess, 1883

The third reads:

“The first rule of business, protect your investment” – Etiquette of the Banker, 1775

The fourth and final one is:

“There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy” – Machiavelli, 1502

As Statham’s character, Jake Green, walks out of prison, we hear him narrating, musing on his time in prison.  He says “in every game and con, there is always an opponent and there is always a victim.  The trick is to know when you’re the latter, so you can become the former.”
The scene then shifts, and it is two years later.  Green has a crew together, and they are driving towards a casino.  One of the crew asks him if he thinks this is a good idea.  He says to Green that he already has more money than he can ever spend, and all he ever thinks about is getting more.   However, Green replies that “he” owes both himself and the man he is talking to, and now he has to pay.  It is apparently a “natural law, cause and effect.”

Dorothy Macha, “Mr D.”, the corrupt casino owner, forces Green and his crew to come upstairs and gamble against him at their table.  Before getting into the lift though, Green’s character has a little internal monologue where he wonders about taking the stairs instead.  He doesn’t like enclosed spaces, and says “why should a man do what he doesn’t want to do?  There is always a choice.”  He eventually takes the lift, however. 

He shows some signs of nervousness as he rides up, but makes it up to Macha’s suite without issue.  At the table, Macha tells him there is one question which drives all human actions, and the more someone invests in it, the more powerful they will become.  The question, according to Macha is “what’s in it for me?”  Macha goes on to tell Green he is a man who “needs a master, an employee”.  He says he will happily remind Green of his place, the “position nature chose for him”, which contrasts well against Statham’s claim that his revenge here is merely natural law.

After winning, Green leaves.  One of Macha’s men says to Green that Macha would appreciate it if he came back to the table.  Green says he hasn’t finished with Macha yet, but turns to leave.  On the way out, a man interrupts Mr Green and tells him he is in trouble.  He gives him a card, then goes back to talking on the phone.  Green hesitates in front of the lift and decides instead to take the stairs.  Walking through the doors, he looks at the card as if puzzled, then collapses, falling down the stairwell.  The movie quickly cuts to the man who gave him the card, smoking a cigar, then back to Green.  The card says “take the elevator”.

(more to come)

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 06:23:37 pm »
While this is going on, Macha demands that Green be taken care of.  He tells his second in command to use “Sorter and Slim Bigguns” to do a proper job on him.

Jake is told at the hospital that it is unknown what caused his fall, but they’re running tests and should have results within 24 hours.  Jake’s brother leaves, and the other three members of his crew drive him home.  Just as Jake is about to open his door, he sees another card on the floor, like the one in the casino.  This one reads “pick me up”.  As he does, a burst of gunfire hits his two crew members across the chest, killing one.  Jake fires in return but only to provide cover so he can get back to the car.  As they are about to go, the driver and the other member of the crew are hit, both killed.  The assassins proceed to shoot up the car, until the man from the casino arrives with a semi-automatic and tells him to get in the car. 

We then cut to Macha again, who expresses shock at Sorter missing, since Sorter never misses.  The hitman himself finds it hard to explain, and puts it down to “something being wrong.”  Sorter believes someone told him they were coming, and that something is “very wrong” here.
The driver who saved Green’s life takes him through a bar and into what appears to be a chess club, where he is introduced to a softly spoken black man going by the name of Avi.  Avi tries to get Green to play a chess game, but he refuses.  So Avi tells him he has his medical results from the hospital, and these results tell them he will die within three days from an ailment which will contaminate his blood and organs.  Green goes to leave, but Avi tells him if he gives him thirty seconds, he can then go.  Green thinks to himself “the longer you listen, the sweeter the pitch”, but sits down regardless.  Avi tells him the next time they save his life it will not be for free.  Avi and Zach, the driver, inform him there are conditions to his help, and they are:

He will give them every penny he has got.

And,

He must do everything they tell him, including answering any questions they ask.

Green immediately suspects a con, but Zach tells him if he thought harder, he would realise this isn’t a trick.  Avi also warns him Macha has unleashed his legions, and they can protect him.  Green thinks to himself that he wont part with his cash for some “home made test results.”  However, when he gets a second opinion, he finds out they were not lying. 

Green then drops off the money to Zach and Avi, who it turns out are in the loan shark business.  People only come to them as a last option, when they have no other choices.  Avi notes, almost mockingly, that Green’s money even “smells proud”, as he takes it from him.  As they drive, Avi tells him that people hate and fear them, just as he will come to hate and fear them. Furthermore, they will be using his money to help fund their operations, by loaning it out. 

Avi asks Green for his history with Macha.  Green tells him about the three Eddies, “flash, loud, proud and stupid”, who ran games for Macha all over the city.  The Eddies knew Green could play and they needed a card man for a game, but he refused.  The scene cuts briefly to show the two Eddies standing to the viewers left of Green, and one on the right.  The Eddies threatened the family of Green’s brother, so he swallowed his pride and played.  He won, but one of the players insulted him, so Green shot him in the foot under the table, triggering a gun fight.  The money vanishes, and the Eddies threatened Green’s niece.  His sister-in-law is killed, and Green spent seven years in prison because he refused to tell the police Macha organised the games.  Green concludes, after telling his story that “nothing hurts more than humiliation and a little money loss.”

As Avi is meeting with some people who owe him money, Green thinks to himself “don't try to make sense out of it, not now, because it doesn't make sense. I just know if you start a job then finish it.”

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2010, 07:16:02 pm »
Macha meanwhile is trying to meet with a “Mr Gold”.  However he cannot.  Instead, he meets with a representative of his, Ms. Lily Walker, and her entourage of eight assistants.  It is very clear from their exchange that Mr Gold is the one in charge, the one laying down the ground rules.  Macha is undertaking a “commission” for Mr Gold, which is selling a shipment of cocaine.
 
Meanwhile, Avi asks Green about his prison experience, while sitting in front of a chess board.  Green recounts he had a choice in prison, 14 years of normal time, or 7 years solitary.  He chose the latter.  Green then moves a piece on the board.  He was inbetween two other cells, one containing a chess master, the other a master conman.  They communicated via the library-on-wheels that was used in the prison.  They used to write ideas on chess moves or how to plan the master con in the back of books on theoretical astrophysics and the mathematics of quantum mechanics.  Green read all of their notes.  While recounting this, the game between Green and Avi continues.  Green tells Avi their aim was to “create the ultimate con and win the ultimate game.”  They believed they discovered a formula for this ultimate con.  They then decided they were going to leave, and take Green with them.  The next day they were gone without a trace, but Green remained.  He got out two years later, but by that point the two prisoners had cleaned him out of everything he had, every secret stash of money he had hidden before doing time.  All they left was a note, stating “you only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent.”  Rule One.  But Green had their formula, and it worked.  Avi notes “it isn’t doing you much good now” and then Green checkmates him.

That night, Green wonders why they are dragging this out and making him suffer, making him pay for his own pain.  A part of him dies every time he thinks about it.

Zach, Avi and Green then take part in a heist.  They steal the safe where the stash of Mr Gold’s cocaine is being kept, from Macha.  Macha is understandably furious and afraid, and his second in command tells him they can only get more cocaine from Lord John, an Asian organised crime leader.  Macha is very unhappy with this, but has no choice.  John is willing to deal, at a substantially higher price than what they got the cocaine from Gold at.  Macha tells his man to deal, saying “this is Sam Gold I’ve found myself chained to, Mr Black Magic, Mr I-run-this-game Gold.  Not some plastic gangster with a pocket knife for backup.  Gold doesn’t give second chances Paul, I want in and I want rewards.”

Avi, Zach and Green also steal this consignment, from Lord John, as well as the money Macha intended to use to pay for the drugs.  Macha is now convinced John stiffed him, and John thinks Macha stole it. 

Avi and Green are playing another chess game.  Zach tells him “wake up Mister Green”, just before he checkmates Avi.  Avi asks him “how do you keep winning?” and Green explains: “You do all the hard work, and I just help you along.  The art is for me to feed pieces to you and let you believe you took those pieces because you are smarter and I am dumber.  In every game and con there is always an opponent and a victim.  The more control a victim thinks he has, the less he actually has.  Gradually he will hang himself.  I as the opponent just help him along.”

Avi asks “so is that the treasured formula?”

Green replies “the formula has infinite depth in its efficacy and application.  But it is staggeringly simple and completely consistent.  Rule one of any game or con, you can only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent.  The more sophisticated the game, the more sophisticated the opponent.  If the opponent is very good, he will place his victim inside an environment he can control.  The bigger the environment, the easier the control.  Toss the dog a bone, find their weakness, give them just a little of what they think they want.  So the opponent simply distracts the victim by getting them consumed with their own consumption.  The bigger the trick, and older the trick, the easier it is to pull.  They think it cant be that old, and it can’t be that big, for so many people to have fallen for it.  Eventually, when the opponent is challenged or questioned, it means the victim investment and thus his intelligence is questioned.  No-one can accept that.  Not even to themselves.  You’ll always find a very good opponent in the last place you would ever look.”

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2010, 08:47:13 pm »
Green’s brother phones to tell him to get out, that the people he is dealing with are people even Gold won’t work with.  “No-one lives and displeases Gold, except them.  No-one sees Gold, but Gold sees everything.”

Avi and Zach try to convince Green to shoot a man who owes them money.  Not kill him, just to injure.  Green refuses however, and when they threaten him, he turns the gun they gave him on them.  When he tries to fire it however, he discovers it isn’t loaded.  Zach tells him again “wake up Mr Green”, just before Avi knocks him unconscious.

Green awakes with a phone call from Avi, telling him he has survived past his third day and is risen again.  He then suggests he should get a check up, where he discovers the doctors “made a mistake” and he would be fine.  Green thinks back to Avi saying “we have to assess our clients very carefully”, and to all the loans they made with his money.  He then narrates “there is something about yourself that you don’t know.  Something that you will deny even exists until it is too late to do anything about it.  It’s the only reason you get up in the morning, the only reason you suffer the shitty boss, the blood, the sweat and the tears.  It’s because you want people to know how good, funny, attractive, generous, wild and clever you really are.  Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.  We share an addiction, we’re all approval junkies.  We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch, the hip-hip hoo-fucking-rah.  Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy.  Shine on you crazy diamond.  Because we’re just monkeys in suits, begging for the approval of others.  If we knew this, we wouldn’t do this.  Someone is hiding it from us.  If we had a second chance, you’d ask “Why?”

Sorter and Slim Bigguns are sent with a team of men to kill Green, Green’s brother and his neice by Macha, since Green’s name has been mentioned as involved in the cocaine heist.  Green escapes the hit team, and makes his way back to Zach and Avi, demanding to know what is really going on.

Avi says that Green lied about the eventual fate of the three Eddies, that Macha had them dropped in cement.  What really happened was they approached him the day he got out of prison, trying to kill him.  However, Green promised them money if they’d let him live.  They decided to let him go, and one of them took him up on the offer.  A month later, he got his money back, with 3% on top.  Green offers him 4% in coming months.  However, Green makes deals with all the three Eddies.  He’d just take the money off one Eddie, and give it to the other.  They borrowed money off Macha to get even greater returns, while protecting his identity. “Always protect your investment.”  The Eddies got in further and deeper.  As Green got richer, he decided to take a long holiday, leaving the three Eddies high and dry.  Macha lost his investment of course, and so Macha killed them.  Avi and Zach congratulate on this and tell him he’s smart, but not as smart as he thinks he is.

As Macha dines in an expensive restaurant, Lord John attempts to assassinate him, with the would-be killer disguised as a waitress.  Sorter shoots the waitress before she can kill Macha, then escapes through the kitchen while the restaurant explodes into chaos.  Sorter exists the kitchen and shoots at the get-away car, causing it to crash, and identifies the shooter as Lord John’s man.  Macha comments “ greed gets them all in the end”.  After ordering his men to find Lord John and persuade him to give the powder back, the screen goes black and the quote from Julius Caesar is shown again, “the greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look”. 

Avi, Zach and Green are playing golf on a roof.  Zach asks him what the first rule of any game, to which Green replies “the only way to get any smarter is to play a smarter opponent.”  Avi asks him the second rule, which is “the more sophisticated the game, the more sophisticated the opponent.”  Avi asks “they’re almost the same, but where does it stop Mr Green?  Where does this game stop?”  Green thinks to himself “it stops when you start to give me answers.  Don’t play head games with you, Jake.”

Avi then asks “is it me playing head games with you Mr Green?  You’ve heard that voice for so long, you believe it to be you.  You believe it to be your best friend.”  Jake remembers saying to Avi “they should believe their opponent to be their best friend.”  Avi asks “where is the best place an opponent should hide?”  Green remembers again, to telling Avi “the very last place you should ever look.” 

Avi then asks “do you know who Sam Gold is, Mr Green?  You should, because he knows who you are.  He’s all up here” Avi says, pointing to his head, “pretending to be you.  You’re in a game Jake, you’re in the game.  Everyone is in his game, and nobody knows it.  And all of this is his world, he owns.  He controls it.”  Green starts to hear his own voice in his head, saying he is sick of this and he’s had enough and to tell Avi to shut up.  Avi continues “he tells you what to do, and when to do it.”  Green starts shouting at him.  Then he recalls what he told Avi, “eventually when the opponent is challenged or questioned, it means the victim’s investment and thus his intelligence is questioned.  No-one can except that.  Not even to themselves.”

Again, Avi continues.  “He’s behind all the pain there ever was, behind every crime ever committed.  And right now, he’s telling you that he doesn’t even exist.  We just put you to war with the only enemy who ever existed.  And you, you think he’s your best friend.  You’re protecting him Mr Green.  But with what?  Where is the best place an opponent should hide?  He’s hiding behind your pain, Mr Green.  Embrace the pain, and you will win this game.  If you change the rules on what controls you, you change the rules on what you control.  How radical are you prepared to be, Mr Green?  The more power you think you have in Gold’s world, the less you have in the real world.  You are still in prison Jake.  In fact, you never left.”

The voice in Jake’s head argues “remember who they are, Jake.  Head tricksters, word-slicksters, you wanted answers and they gave you riddles.  You know the rules, the longer you listened, the sweeter the deal.”

Avi goes on “he’s got all the tricks, and all the right answers.”  The voice in Jake’s head argues back “don’t let them do this to you Jake, don’t let them turn you against you.”  Avi then says “you don’t give because its good, you give because it hurts him.”

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2010, 09:35:13 pm »
Guy Ritchie did Revolver when he was way into Kaballah, and it shows in the film.

this movie was, for me, the crime genre version of The Sixth Sense, in that I saw the "ending twist" coming from about 15 minutes into the film.

Andre 3000 is good, though.
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Cain

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 09:38:13 pm »
Oh yeah, the twist is telegraphed fairly far in advance.  And the Kabballah references are noticeable, if you know what to look for.  But still, there are some good ideas aside from that in it.

Anyway, gonna continue reviewing tomorrow.  Well, writeup, then analysis.

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2010, 12:17:07 am »
lalalala not reading this thread because of spoilers but I am queueing this movie for my torrents :)
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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2010, 09:05:26 am »
Hey Cain, thanks for the writeup! Are you going to do the last part?

I really liked the movie, even though I kind of lost track at some point.

Partly because I missed a little detail in the beginning, that there was two years between him getting out of prison and the rest of the story. I thought he was going straight to the casino. I felt I missed something, but the friend I was watching with didn't want to rewind the movie to check. He had missed it too, we must have been talking, and consequently watched the movie in a perpetual state of puzzlement, which was fun in its own way :)

Then after the rooftop golf scene, when everything started getting a bit psychedelic I got distracted as they started playing the track Ask Yourself from Plastikman's album "Closer" in the background. Which surprised me cause it's relatively obscure. But incredibly fitting to what happened, it's a minimal ambient/techno track consisting of not much more but the throbbing hum and the slow beat you were hearing during the following scenes. Fun thing is, the original (10 minute) track also has a bunch of "internal monologue" voices, talking about a rather similar topic as Jake was discussing with himself during the movie, so I expected to hear the track samples every second (but they did not appear, I suppose it was Richie Hawtin himself that did the vocals). Brilliant album btw, I'm not that big a fan of minimalistic myself, but Plastikman is capable of painting incredibly moody, spooky and oppressive atmospheres, doing so much with so very little very clean sound. If you can stand minimal ambient, of course :P
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Cain

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2010, 01:40:19 am »
Sorry, got caught up with things.  There will be an analysis at the end of this, but for it to make any sense, you need to know the basics of the film, hence my spoilerific overview here.

Right, on with the show.

As Avi and Green talked, Sorter was assassinating Lord John, via a hole in the wall at LJ's nightclub.

At the end of the talk between Jake and Avi, the screen goes black, and the quote from Machiavelli is repeated: “there is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy”. 

We see Macha, sleeping, then Jake, stood at the end of the bed, his internal voice asking “what are we doing here?  He’s the enemy, Jake, not me.”  Avi’s voice, inside Jake’s head, then repeats “you should use your perceived enemy to destroy your real enemy”.  The internal voice urges Jake to kill Macha in a variety of ways, only to do it as quickly as possible.  Jake wakes Macha up, by tapping his gun on the end of the bed. 

Jake apologizes for waking Macha, and requests he listens to him, releasing a torrent of abuse from the internal voice.  Jake continues however, apologizing to Macha for cheating him out of his money, and for the things he said to him.  All while he is doing this, the internal voice urges Jake to shoot Macha, to kill him.  Jake continues to grovel before Macha, telling him he is a man to be feared and respected, while the internal voice chides him for this.  Jake then tells him he made a donation in Macha’s name, as a peace offering.  He then asks Macha to forgive his stupidity, before leaving.

Before the elevator Green stops, Avi’s voice in his head telling him wherever he does not want to go, he will find “him”.  Jake decides to take the elevator.  Macha, meanwhile, both frightened and enraged, has grabbed a gun and is going after Jake.   At floor 13, the elevator breaks down.  Trapped there, the internal voice returns, telling him he is going to die there.  The voice continues ranting, until we hear Jake say “I can hear you.”  We then see a more panicked version of Jake, still in the lift, looking surprised, a representation of his internal voice.  Jake tells his voice that he is onto him.  They then argue, with the internal voice telling him he protects him and controls him and without him he would be nothing.  His internal voice then rants about how Jake has been listening to the wrong people, those on the other side, the “enemy”, with more about how he controls Jake, and is his oldest friend, compared to these “newcomers”.  Jake simply replies “I’m coming to get you”.  After some more ranting, and a faked death, Jake denies that the internal voice is really him.  Jake drops the gun and tells the internal voice it doesn’t control him, that he controls it, and then the elevator starts working again.

When the door opens, we see Macha, looking faintly ridiculous in his underwear, pointing a gun at Jake’s head.  Macha says “you come to my house, with a loaded gun, you speak to me like I’m a fucking idiot.  What’s your game?”  He then threatens to kill Jake if he doesn’t speak.  Jake doesn’t reply, and Macha steps forward, with tears in his eyes, saying “fear me.”   He starts to shake.  Jake does nothing, then slowly walks past, as Macha breaks down, repeating “fear me” until he is a sobbing wreck.  We briefly see Macha’s second in command, with one of Lord John’s men tied to a table and spitting blood, asking where the cocaine is. 

The screen then turns black, and we have yet another quote from before:  “the first rule of business, protect your investment”.

Macha is shown seated as his table, still clearly disturbed from the night before.  His second in command shows him the daily newspapers, most of which recount “Macha’s” donations to various charities.   We then hear an internal voice in Macha’s head, telling him to take the credit, revelling in how good this all feels.  Paul then tells Macha they still have a problem.  Macha says he thinks otherwise, recounting his actions in Macha’s bedroom the previous night.  However, Paul is certain that Green was behind the cocaine theft, and was playing mindgames.  Macha’s head then flashes back to when he was ordering Green to fear him, the night before, and he grabs his head whilst shouting “shut up!”  When Paul mentions Mr Gold, Macha becomes intensely fearful.  Macha then orders Sorter to go “with an army” and get Jake’s brother.   He is now shouting orders at Paul, nearly out of control. 

Jake’s brother, suspecting something bad is about to happen, orders his daughter to hide in the cupboards.  Just after she does so, Macha’s men filter in.  Paul and another man start torturing Jake’s brother to get information on his whereabouts, driving a nail through his hand.   Sorter stands behind the table, clearly unhappy with this entire situation. 

Macha meanwhile, has taken to listening and repeating almost everything his internal voice is saying, which is driving him into paranoia.  Miss Walker, the assistant to Mr Gold, returns.  Macha is clearly afraid of her.  Miss Walker extends a congratulation to Macha from Mr Gold, on account of the generous donation to charity he undertook.  She then indicates that Mr Gold is wondering, if he can be so generous, why has he not concluded their business yet?  She reminds him that Mr Gold does not give more time, nor second chances, and that he will be hearing from him again soon.  She then turns to leave.  The internal voice then returns.  It prompts him to an outburst of anger, where he insults Miss Walker, who stops briefly, but doesn’t turn around and then leaves.  The voice in his head then rants about how he will kill Gold if he comes there, how he must kill Gold, until the voice registers doubt, suggesting Gold might kill him first.  He then rushes to take back what he said, but Miss Walker is already gone. 

We are now back at Jake’s brother’s place.  The torture is continuing, with Sorter getting even more agitated, until he tell’s Paul “that’s enough”.  Paul replies “question me again Sorter, and we will have a falling out.”  Sorter and Paul then both hear Jake’s niece, crying from her hiding place in the cupboards.  We then get the scene described to us from a past perspective.  Paul is using the girl to get to Jake’s brother, threatening to torture her (or implying he will), so Sorter shoots him in the back of the head, without warning.   Sorter then starts shooting the other men who had come with him to the flat.  Sorter tries to calm the girl, and gets her to hide in the cupboard, while more of Macha’s men are running up the stairs.  Sorter then starts to methodically kill the rest of the men who are invading the building, only to be killed by the final remaining gunman. 

Avi, Zach and Jake, meanwhile, are visiting Macha’s casino again, and this time they’ve bought along the cocaine.  While waiting for Macha to invite them up, Avi and Jake play another chess game.  While playing, Avi says “you know what is so elegant about this little game, Jake?  No-one knows where the enemy is.  He’s inside of every one of their heads.  And they trust him, because they think they are him.  If you try to destroy him to save them, they’ll destroy you to save him.”  Avi then checks Jake, with startling ease.  Every move Jake makes is checked by Avi.  Jake begins to realise Avi was always in control, always letting him win.  Jake also begins to realise the true identity of Zach and Avi, as the master conman and chessmaster respectively.  Avi then states “we didn’t do this because we like you, we did this because we ARE you”.  Avi then suggests at the meeting that Jake give Macha what he wants, as that will make him very happy.

At the meeting, Macha is still being driven by his internal voice.  His fear of Mr Gold is nearly all consuming by this point.  Macha considers killing Jake’s niece, until the voice in his head suggests Gold cannot kill a dead man.  Macha then kills himself.  The film ends.

Cain

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010, 07:01:18 pm »
Analysis

This isn’t a great film.  If you look at it in purely entertainment terms, then it is not well acted or especially well directed, and the twist in the plot was fairly foreseeable.

Regardless though, there are several ideas in it which are tied together in interesting ways and are probably worth exploring. 

For a film with so much repetition, the most important, key line is only said once in the film.  Near the end, Avi turns to Jake Green and says “You are still in prison Jake.  In fact, you never left.”  The theme of the film is control.  Methods of control we can’t see, that we are so used to that we don’t even recognise them for what they are. 

Pride

Why does Jake go after Macha?  He thinks Macha “owes” him and that he “has to pay”.  It is made clear by Jake’s brother that he already he has more money than he knows what to do with.   Jake is looking to humiliate Macha, in his own casino, and money is a way of keeping score, nothing more. 

Later on, when talking about the Three Eddies, Jake describes them in as “flash, loud, proud and stupid”.  In the very next scene, Jake has two brothers to the left of him, and one on the right.  Count them off, with the descriptions above.  The gunfight at the card game happens because Jake was insulted, and instead of brushing it off, he got angry and shot the man instead.

As we later find out, Jake kills the three Eddies by proxy, using a very simple con to get them in deep debt to Macha, who then murders them when they lose his money.  He gets his revenge, firstly and primarily against the three Eddies, who forced him to play in the first place, but also against Macha, the man behind them.  But it’s not enough.

Pride is the voice in Jake’s head, the enemy he has to beat.  The voice becomes most agitated whenever Jake is conciliatory, and in its dialogue with him, is almost manic in its behaviour. 

Jake’s money is also his pride.  Avi remarks on how “it even smells proud” after he brings it to Avi, to be given away.  Jake also talks about how a part of him dies every time he gives some away.

Mr Gold

Who is Mr Gold?  Two different, but connected concepts: God, and ego, in the pejorative sense.  Miss Walker has eight assistants accompanying her.  8+1=9, yesod, the final sephirah before Malkuth.  Gold is everywhere and nowhere; he sees everyone and knows everything that is going it.  It’s his game, his world.  What is the Golden rule?  He who has the Gold makes the rules.  Gold’s product seems to be cocaine, a drug which acts on the ego, pride, vanity, and can make its users paranoid and anxious.  Gold is also the predisposition towards pride and egoistical action inherent in all humans, due to our shared nature.  “Mr Gold is pretending to be you.”  When our pride is hurt, we often act as if we were hurt, when in fact it is only a single facet of our mind, driving those reactions.  The ego can give commands, but there is no reason the rest of the brain has to obey them, except through inherent or situational weakness.

Jake said “we’re all approval junkies”.  And what exactly does approval appeal to?  Ego gratification. 

Gold doesn’t deal with Zach and Avi.  He won’t touch them; they’re not part of his game.

Zach and Avi

Zach is intuition.  He is the gut feeling that saves Jake on at least one occasion.  When he ignores Zach in the casino, he ends up falling down the stairs instead of merely collapsing in the lift.  When he pays attention to the note left at his front door, conversely, he narrowly escapes assassination by Sorter.  But intuition is by nature reactive, and can only be helpful when dealing with immediate events.  Zach is also the master conman, and manipulation of people in a con game relies on intuitive feelings as to how easily they can be manipulated, how to best get what you want out of them.  It’s a tactical sense of awareness, but it needs something far more long term to work with. 

Avi is intellect.  Avi is the one who explains why they are doing what they are doing to Jake, who plays chess with him, who tells him what Gold’s game is.  Avi is, as we recall, the chess master, chess being a game that can only be excelled at if you have an aptitude for long term planning and logical, if somewhat abstract thinking.  Avi is also often shown to the left of Jake, with Zach on the right.  The left pillar in Kabbalah represents the feminine principle (Avi is rather effeminate), the colour black and is headed by Binah, or understanding.  Zach, by contrast, represents the right pillar, which is headed by Chokhmah, meaning wisdom and intuitive knowledge. 

The Con

The rules of the con easily apply to the world in which we live.  All sorts of people have an interest in controlling, using and misleading us in order to profit (in various ways) from our mistakes and misunderstanding of the world.  The best methods to achieve this, however, are those which already exist in our heads, our latent tendencies to act in particular ways in particular situations which can be anticipated by sufficiently amoral individuals for their own purposes.

Applying the rules

However, knowing the rules also allows one to use them on themselves, to “pull the wool over their own eyes” to better understand how others do it.

The Quotes

The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look. - Julius Caesar, 75 BC

In the mind itself, that is the last place most people would look.  You are your own greatest enemy.  You know your own weaknesses and how to manipulate yourself better than anyone, and if one particular drive (such as pride) wants something in particular, then it knows the buttons to push to get them. 

The only way to get smarter is by playing a smarter opponent. - Fundamentals of Chess, 1885

Unless you master your own mind, you have reached the limits of your potential.  You can only go so far without addressing the inherent flaws that exist in your psyche.  To get better, you need to confront your own failings and psychological frailties.

First rule of business, protect your investment. - Etiquette of the Banker, 1775

What is your investment?  You.  Your autonomy.  Your ability to reason, analyze and outthink others.  Alternatively, your beliefs are “your” investment.  Your beliefs will be used to manipulate you, because you will always act to protect them.

There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy. --Niccolo Machiavelli, 1502

The more you attempt to put off the struggle with your ego and pride, the more you avoid the painful process of sorting your head out and breaking the mental chains that have built up, the more entrenched they will become, and the more natural they will feel, until you are unable to distinguish between your ego/pride and yourself.

Other rules

“From now on, I am bending all the rules, because desperate men do desperate deeds.”  Jake is only willing to bend the rules once he is threatened with death, once he is desperate.  He is not willing to do what is necessary at any time before then.

“The more control the victim thinks he has, the less control he actually has.”  The seeds of every person’s destruction are sown by them.  In an environment they think they control, they let their guard down; they act without suspicion, they become gullible and easy.  Society as a whole gives people enough rope, in the form of freedom, to hang themselves.

“The opponent simply distracts their victim by getting them consumed with their own consumption.”  The basis of the con is appealing to people’s greed.  In that sense, a con game appeals to the victim’s own desire for consumption.  However, this is also a not very subtle reminder of consumer society, where the aim is getting the victi-er, customer, preoccupied with consumption and with varying brands of almost indistinguishable products.  It also indirectly relates back to ego gratification and pride, in that we often identify with the products we buy, and define ourselves by these possessions and what they signify.

“The bigger the trick and the older the trick, the easier it is to pull, because --   1. They think it can't be that old,   2. They think it can't be that big.” There is no bigger and older trick in the world than organised religion and the curious pride that being one of the “saved” engenders.  Religion is the oldest con game both in the conventional sense and in the sense of being a framework whereby we are psychologically manipulated and controlled, often without realising it.

“When the opponent is challenged or questioned, it means the victim's investment and thus his intelligence is questioned, no one can accept that.”  Doubt is the great enemy of pride and ego.  Doubting what you know and your own skills kills the ego very effectively, but is so very hard to do, since few people can really do it properly, can really accept such self-interrogation of their value.

“Embrace the pain and you will win this game.”  Ego loss and the swallowing of pride are painful.  It sets you against yourself, makes you unstable and question your every action.  However, the only way to put a leash on your ego and self-destructive tendencies is to go through this painful process.

“If you change the rules on what controls you, you will change the rules on what you can control.”  Putting a leash on the ego opens up new opportunities, new possibilities.  You won’t be motivated by anger and minor slights, nor will mental weaknesses like paranoia and anxiety have such a hold on you.  You are either an opponent or a victim.  By refusing to be controlled, you change status from the former to the latter.

“The more power you think you have in Gold's world, the less power you have in the real world.”  The most powerful are invariably tools of even more powerful people, or to their own innate drives.  Macha, for example, ran many illegal games in town, but he was still nothing, a gnat, compared to Mr Gold.  Power in Mr Gold’s world derives from what he is willing to give you, to allow you to have.  And there is always a price attached with such power.  In the real world, the only power you truly have is that which you derive from your own skills and innate cunning, which Gold cannot give or take away.

“Use your perceived enemy to destroy your real enemy.”  “Enemies” are useful, in that truly dangerous ones brook no mistakes and will destroy you if you slip up.  Even so, they are not as dangerous as the enemy inside your own head.  Perceived enemies keep you sharp, in that allowing ego or pride to enter the equation when going up against them is signing your own death warrant.  You therefore use your perceived enemy to keep your pride and ego in check.  In Jake’s case, apologizing to Macha is the ultimate act of liberation, as it involves absolutely no pride or ego whatsoever.  After he has killed his ego, fear has no hold on him, even when Macha brandishes a gun and threatens to kill him.

Macha

Macha’s victory over Jake, and the donation in his name to charity, feed his pride and ego.  Macha was already a very prideful individual, but now we get to see inside his head.  He is extremely angry and indecisive, looking to strike out because of his internal confusion.  Macha threatens Gold, but his own internal voice, the Mr Gold inside his head, suggests Gold might get to him first.  At the end, Macha loses, because even though he gets the cocaine back, he hasn’t broken Jake Green, and his position as a tool of Mr Gold has only been reconfirmed.  His suicide is an act of shame, born of pride and ego, as he cannot handle this failure.

Doktor Howl

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2013, 10:06:56 pm »
Bump, because this was fucking cool.

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2017, 04:40:07 am »
This review is pure gold

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 02:12:21 pm »
I read this late last night/early this morning. Figured I'd get some sleep before replying. I see what you mean there mostly. Sounds like a pretty cool flick. I'm not picky about the technical shit.

I totally get the principal. I think of it as "winning against yourself without being defeated".

Pride is one of my biggest problems. I have trouble seeking help, not necessarily seeing my problems. I'm not without fear, but death isn't what I fear. My big problem has been a sort of being afraid to really live combined with the above mentioned jackass nature.

I'm consciously working on these because I see an existential threat now. If it was just about me I'd be happy to just continue to be as I am, but I have my own version of the "Illness" driving me now.

I can do without the Kaballah symbolism, but what it means is indispensable. Much of the Eastern arts is about overcoming the ego without total dissolution, and thus overcoming fear without resorting to "psyching yourself up". I understand how to be calm in emergency situations this way, but there's always room for improvement.

This was a pretty great review.
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Life can be seen as a game with no reset button, no extra lives, and if the power goes out there is no restarting.  If that's all you see life as you are not long for this world, and never will get it.

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 - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality :lulz:

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Re: Revolver (2005) - a review
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2017, 05:42:06 pm »
Damn, that was good. Like Cain said, not a good film. But good.