(director/writer: Guy Ritchie; screenwriters: Luc Besson/Ethan Gross; cinematographer: Tim Maurice Jones; editors: James Herbert, Ian Differ, Romesh Aluwihare; music: Nathaniel Mechaly; cast: Jason Statham (Jake Green), Ray Liotta (Dorothy Macha), Vincent Pastore (Zach) Andre Benjamin (Avi), Terrence Maynard (French Paul), Andrew Howard (Billy), Mark Strong (Sorter), Francesca Annis (Lily Walker), Anjela Lauren Smith (Doreen), Elana Binysh (Rachel); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Virginie Silla; Sam Goldwyn Films; 2005-UK/France)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Guy Ritchie (“Swept Away”/”Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) co-writes and directs this incoherent, leaden, poorly conceived macho gangster film. Luc Besson must also be credited for the bad script. This film is all style and no substance, with eye-catching photography and end credit psychologists, along with spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, talking babble to try an explain this schlock film’s deeper meaning. All that needs to be said is the content is pseudo-intellectual rubbish, pretentious and cold. If that weren’t bad enough, Ray Liotta poses in his tanning salon in his leopard-skin underwear, and does this more than once.
Scruffy looking Jake Green (Jason Statham) is released from prison after 7 years of solitary confinement (we don’t know if the prison is an English or American one). He took some kind of unexplained rap for sleazy gangster casino owner Dorothy Macha (Ray Liotta). There are hints that the casino might be either in London or Las Vegas (knowing the location in a murky pic like this one probably doesn’t matter, anyhow). While Jake thinks out loud to plan his revenge because Macha doesn’t respect him and did him wrong, he visits the casino and wins a fortune. Macha is humiliated by the gambling loss and gets his right-hand man (Terrence Maynard) to get some of his goons to kill Jake before he exits the casino. Jake’s life is saved by two unsavory loan sharks (Andre Benjamin & Vincent Pastore), who have their mercenary reasons for saving the bad boy. They don’t charge him for the first save, but to protect him in the near future demand all his money. That tough guy Jake complies seems odd, but since nothing else makes sense in this ridiculous pic there’s no reason why that also should not make sense.
From here-on there’s your usual thuggery and violence, but it weirds out when it goes talky and boringly expounds on various things from going over the rules of a con game, rattling on about the values of chess, and lecturing us on egos. It’s difficult to say what was worst, its dumb narrative, its pretentiousness, its hammy acting or its stilted scenes. Ritchie tries to reinvent the gangster film, and shoots himself in the foot instead.
REVIEWED ON 7/10/2016 GRADE: C-