Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained

Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained - because the thing that happens on the screen, yeah, that isn't what actually happens at all.
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I am definitely not up for this. A Revolver breakdown, deconstruction and explanation? Nah. But as I look around the web, and see what others have written, it only confuses me all the more. So, in an attempt to actually grok what it is that Revolver and Guy Richie were attempting to do… I present to you the “Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained.”

Now, if you are a regular reader of THiNC. and have never seen said movie. Trust me when I tell you, Revolver is the epitome of the films we like to talk about here. I thought it was just going to be a fast talking Guy Richie film with lots of British slang, and blood. Which, it is. But it’s also so much more. So, like always, we’ll trailer… and then we’ll walk through the movie in excruciating detail – because, holy cow it needs it. AND THEN, we will see if we can make sense of it. But first, watch it right here:

If you haven’t seen this 15-year-old movie, stop reading. And go watch Revolver here, or here, or here. You’ve been warned.

Revolver Movie Walkthrough

Everything starts with a mob boss named Dorothy Macha (played by Ray Liotta). He runs all manner of illegal games throughout the city, and in one particular game, he loses his card man and needs someone to stand in. So his men lean out to Jake Green (played by Jason Statham) and he initially says no. But after Macha’s men, “the three Eddies,” harass his brother and niece, he agrees to play. Better yet, Green wins. And when the game devolves into name calling, Green shoots by shooting the high roller in the foot. And after which, the game money all disappears. The three Eddies threaten Green to not flip to the police, and Green’s sister-in-law is accidentally shot. The police eventually catch up to Green and put him prison. Now, tip-off number one that something else is going on here is that Green is given the choice of seven years in solitary, or fourteen years in the general population. And he chooses the seven years of solitary.

OK. Do you understand where we are right now? Green has been threatened by Macha several times. He’s in prison serving time for a game he didn’t want to play. Right? Good.

Now, while in solitary confinement, he is situated between two men. One on his left is a chess expert, and the one on his right is a con man. And while snugly situated between the two, he learns about a strategy that he takes to calling the Formula. Also, the two men are planning to break free together, and they have promised to take Green with them. But, they don’t. Instead, they take their intricate knowledge of Green and rob him blind…literally taking absolutely everything from him. But, the two men have given him the Formula, and he uses it in order to win big at the casinos. So big, that the various casinos up and down the strip have blacklisted him. But upon walking into Macha’s casino, after being denied a table, Macha invites Green up to a big roller sort of a game. And Green ends up betting Macha on a single coin toss…which, he wins. (After losing to someone else…which, is important to the Formula.) Well, Green has humiliated Macha, and cost him a little bit of money. And the worst affront imaginable was that Green doesn’t appear to fear him at all.

Now, as Green is leaving, an unidentified man hands him a business card, and informs him that he can help. Green, after years of solitary confinement, has a completely understandable fear of enclosed places. As such, he takes the stairs. But the card handed to him by the random individual said to take the elevator. Green falls down the stairs after being hit by some terrible illness. At the hospital they do all manner of blood tests to determine what caused Green’s blackout.

Upon returning home, Green survives a hit put out on him by Macha, due to Zach’s (Vincent Pastore) giving him another card telling him to duck. Everyone else dies in the hit, but Green makes it out alive. Zach introduces Green to Avi (André Benjamin), his partner, and they offer him a deal. They will protect him from Macha, in exchange for every penny he owns. Green will also have to do everything the duo tell him to do. Green agrees. (Another indication that something else weird is going on here. Because why exactly?) They also tell Green that he has a horrible blood disorder that will kill him in the next three days. Oddly specific, but okay – Green is on to them that this is obviously a con of some sort. In for a penny, in for a pound. The duo then inform Green that his money would be used to front loan shark loans to people in desperate need of cash throughout the city.

Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained - because the thing that happens on the screen, yeah, that isn't what actually happens at all.

Now, this is where things start to get interesting. Macha is summoned by the king of the world of gangs throughout the city, Sam Gold. It’s an opportunity for Macha that could change his world forever. Working with Gold could be huge. And we learn later that Gold was probably ordering an enormous pile of blow. But it is never explicitly stated. We actually never meet Sam Gold, we always see Macha talk via a liaison, an intermediary. Macha is giddy at the opportunity, and wants to do everything in his power to make Gold happy. Which, is fascinating, because Sam Gold isn’t who we think he is. He’s actually a symbol of greed and selfishness. We’ll get back to him later though – for sure.

Now, Green learns, after three days have completed without his death, that the diagnosis for his disease wasn’t correct. He will live longer. It was a con after all.

Macha, in the meantime, is suffering complications. First his dope supply for Gold is stolen by Zach, Avi, and Green. Then, Macha’s backup supply is stolen mid-deal via a complicated sleeping gas hit in a hotel room. This puts Macha in the worst possible way. He isn’t going to be able to deliver what he has promised Gold. And, in an attempt to regain control, he begins a series of thrashings in the dark as he tries to get his pile of drugs back. In one exchange, Macha’s gang is attacked by a rival gang. A gang member disguised as a waitress almost succeeds in assassinating Macha, but instead, only shoots off one of Macha’s fingers. Sorter (played by Mark Strong) saves the day by killing the final assassin. But when Macha orders Sorter to kill Green’s brother Billy, Sorter grows a conscience and kills all of Macha’s men. All but one. But Billy and his daughter are saved.

Now, at this point of the movie, I was so completely lost as to what was REALLY going on, I had to stop and take a breather. I walked a lap or two around my house, and contemplated what was really going on here. Sure, I’ve seen metaphorical violence, and mythical story telling before. But none of this movie was adding up. Gold, the elusive, immovable force, never there, but never not there. Gangs killing gangs over perceived slights. Reality for these gang wars are nowhere to be seen. No cops. No circumstances. Literally there was no gravity to pull this story back to the ground. There was no realism here. Which is fine, but to what point? What was happening here in this story that I was missing?

Thankfully, Green had had enough as well. Jake heads over to Avi and Zach and demands an answer as to what was going on. But the only answer that they give him is that he (Jake Green) is his own worst enemy. Avi explains to him that Ego is his true enemy. Got that? We’ll come back to it, but that is literally the truest answer this movie will ever give us. I will add clarification, but that is our answer as to what is going on here. Remember that thought – The Ego.

Jumping back into the narrative, Jake heads up to Macha’s bedroom, and he asks for forgiveness. Wait what? WHAT IS HAPPENING? This isn’t what needs to happen at this moment of a gangster blood war movie! Put a horse’s head in his bed. Shoot him in cold blood. But to ask forgiveness???? WHAT?!?

Jake head down in the elevator, and momentarily he is stuck on floor 13. (Which, actually doesn’t exist. He’s stuck between 14 and 12.) And in this nether region of time and space, Green has an argument with himself. And it is then that he finally, and completely rejects the previous master of his fate, his ego. After the elevator starts back up, and arrives at the lobby, Green is confronted by Macha and a gun pointed at his face. But Green just walks by as he mumbles “fear me, fear me!”

Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained - because the thing that happens on the screen, yeah, that isn't what actually happens at all.

And this is when we learn that Avi and Zach were Green’s cellmate neighbors. Which should sort of be that AHA! moment for most of the viewing audience if they hadn’t already figured it out. What’s funny is that I missed that reveal until my second time through. I had assumed they were his cellmates. But I hadn’t realized the reveal had even occurred until I watched it closer a second time around. His two “friends” have forced Jake to “induce head pain” in order to “engage the enemy.” And it was when they forced him to give his money away that they were invoking the original principle that nothing hurts more than “humiliation and a little money loss.” His friends were requiring Green to experience a little “premature enlightenment” now, because he wasn’t ready to hear it while in prison. Which was also why they left him behind in prison.

At this point, the movie wraps up with the soliloquy from Jake Green that ties a bow on the craziness that this movie is:

“There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s 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. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. ‘Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.’ We share an addiction. We’re 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. Cos we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.”

But Who Took All The Money?

I’ve seen some people online just struggling with the practical details of the movie. For example, who/what/where/when happened to Jake’s money? Well, after Jake is released from prison, he finds that Avi and Zach took all his money. OK? That makes sense? Well, then Green uses what he learned in prison to game the money back over a couple years. OK? We are still good? But then, Green makes a deal with the Three Eddies after they tried to kill him, that he would loan them money, and would give them 4% interest a month. (That’s well over 50% interest a year. That’s unbelievable money that Jake is making the Three Eddies. Obviously the Eddies are going to hide Jake from anyone and everyone. Put a million in, get half a million out? Definitely, I want in on that.) But how is Jake making them their money, and why? Well, he is actually doing nothing. He’s just taking their money, and paying the interest out of his own earnings. Which then sets Jake up to double-cross them at the right time. The Three Eddies borrow from Macha, thinking they’ll be able to pay out of their sure thing fund, but Green takes off with the cash. Poof. And leaves the Three Eddies high and dry. Macha then tortures and kills the Eddies because they were unable to return the money they own Macha. And it was this twist of the knife that got his revenge against the Eddies for killing his brother’s wife.

Revolver Movie Deconstructed and Explained - because the thing that happens on the screen, yeah, that isn't what actually happens at all.

But WHAT?!??! The Revolver ENDING?

I have never, in my life, ever watched an ACTION film that wrapped up with someone pontificating. But that is what we have here. Not only did the movie end with someone waxing eloquent, but it also didn’t have the arch nemesis dying either. This movie was up to something entirely different than any “action” movie I’ve ever seen. But what was it up to? Therein lies the question!

Okay, well, tip number one is that Avi and Zach were trying to fill Jake in to a larger awakening to the internal battle everyone has with their ego. And by ego, it isn’t referring to ego specifically in the Freudian since. Think more like the battle we all have with egotism. You know, that beast, master, the demon that drives you to explode into being bigger than yourself? That thing. The battle that Avi & Zach are explaining, the guy you always need to be 3 steps ahead of, is yourself. No one else. Just yourself. And you remember when Jake said, that the greatest con your ego ever pulled was convincing you that he is you, that is the con this movie about. It’s not the con wherein Avi and Zach steal all of Jake’s money… it’s the con that makes us think that we are who our egos tell us that we are. Think about it, Green walks into Macha’s bedroom – and asks forgiveness. If that isn’t the single biggest rejection of the ego, I don’t know what is.

Because, you see, the chessboard that we live our lives on, we play our games on, they are all part and parcel… they are outpourings solely of our egos. And to reject the rules of the ego, it means stepping off the board entirely. Alternately, Macha, he completely and totally gave in to his ego. “Fear me. Fear me. Fear me!” he cries out, totally lost in the chess game his ego has him consumed with. You see, Zach and Avi were the only ones capable of inflicting the head trauma necessary to force Jake into engaging with the real game. They’ve forced him into a state of enlightenment. A liberation, that could only come from through the ritualistic breaking down of the self.

Maybe you aren’t buying what I’m selling. That the movie is actually about dying to self. Losing so that you can win. But the proof is riddled throughout the film. It’s literally everywhere.

The first thing that you have to realize is that Zach and Avi don’t exist. I mean, really. They couldn’t have actually existed. How could this dynamic duo have been reading his mind throughout the entirety of the film? Also, the trio never converse in front of anyone else. They are always separate. And remember when Avi says to Jake, “We didn’t do this because we like you. We did this because we are you.” At the time, in the space of the movie, we take it as something of a metaphor. But I’d argue we should take him at his word. They are him.

But Who is Sam Gold?

Many people talking about this movie state unequivocally that Sam Gold doesn’t exist. This much is for certain. Gold is just a symbol of avarice and greed. Got it. But, I’ll go one step further – I actually think Gold is Satan. A malevolent prime mover out for the active destruction of others. And he manipulates others towards their own demise through what? Ego and Pride. Exactly. GREAT JOB CLASS!! So, if I am right, we have a good old fashion confrontation between good and evil. We have Satan, attempting to steal, kill, and destroy. And we have Green attempting to make right with his own mortal soul. To do the right thing, and to stop playing the game that his ego is forcing him to play. And instead, to step off the board, and in so doing, undermine anyone else that is still on the board through the crushing weight of the expectations of ego’s own desires.

The Final Question I Have

After watching, taking notes, and unraveling the various details of this complicated film, I think I’ve been able to understand most of it. At least reasonably. One possibility I haven’t really been able to unravel is this question – “Did everything happen in the prison, or did Green leave the prison at all?” I literally have zero clues about this one. It could very well be that not only were Zach and Avi figments of his own imagination…but everything else was as well. It could be that he was teaching himself a lesson from top to bottom. Utterly and completely. But I don’t have anything that might tip the scales one way or the other on this one. I will say that I’ve just learned there was an edit for the United States theaters, that includes Macha shooting himself? The version I saw ended with the chess game. So there might be other clues in other versions out there that might help unravel some of these details? Gah. I don’t know… what do you think?

If you’d like another movie like this one, that is filled with action, but is actually about something entirely different – the best example I have would be Remainder. Yes, you can thank me later.

Edited by: CY