'Revolver' DVD Review *** 091005

The Work = ***
'Revolver' is saved from being a fairly mediocre thriller by a few exciting scenes, two strong performances from the leads Oliver Reed and Fabio Testi, and a score with a catchy theme by Ennio Morricone. Those elements work together to make this film a moderately engaging 70s Italian flic that is worth checking out if you are a fan of any and all of the above elements. Reed is one of those actors who was clearly very talented but has left a body of work that has surprisingly few strong films.

Many filmmakers have commented that he was difficult to work with. I often got the sense that he had to be sort of wrangled into a strong performance. He was a heavy drinker and the later in the day he worked the more difficult he was to control. Here, he is playing the lead, a man of character, Vito Cipriani, who is the warden of a jail. He has a big reputation and is supposed to be a steadfast individual. I couldn’t help but think if he had switched roles with Testi the film might have benefited.

Testi plays Milo Ruiz a jailed thief of sorts who is sprung from jail for mysterious reasons. Watching him onscreen he had a real presence and I wondered why he has not had a larger film career. Perhaps he just kept getting typecast or it is just he has had a large film career outside of the states. Vito and Milo end up on the run together and are reluctantly forced to help each other. (How that happens I will leave a mystery.)

The pair criss cross the country as bodies pile up and their situation becomes more and more desperate. Probably the best action sequence comes when the two are ambushed by two groups of hitmen in broad daylight. They have to exchange fire with their pursuers in the middle of a populated street. For me this sequence was the climax and the remaining movements of the film were simply not as effective.

A word about the concluding moments of the film. I will not say what happens but will simply say that I felt it was anticlimactic. I did not object to what happens so much as I object the way it happens. (Stop reading here if you don’t want to know any more about the end but I will try to make it as vague as possible.) I don’t mind a dark conclusion or twist at the end if the A) the movie earns that ending or B) it fits with the rest of the movie. In 'Revolver' it seems almost as if the filmmakers just tried to shock the audience by making the ending very down beat. Considering the power of the Mafia in Italy the conclusion may have been a bit of a commentary on the heights and depth of the criminal organizations reach.

Still, there was enough in the film for me to enjoy it overall and recommend it. Fans of Reed and Testi will probably want to check this one out. There are good scenes and I can’t say the film was poorly made. If the ending had been reconstructed I would have been more satisfied. I still also think that Testi would have been better as the warden and Reed would have been a more wild thief.

DVD = ****

The Look
'Revolver' gets a pretty decent anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Considering the film isn’t the most renowned feature I suppose this is a pretty darn good transfer. Some scenes fair better than others.

The Sound
The DVD has an English mono track that sounds... well pretty darn good! The film gets a good mix here and like the image I am guessing this is about as good as could be done. Go Blue Underground!

The Bonus
Blue Underground has done about as good a job as could be done. They seem to treat this film with the same respect that a company like Criterion would. There are some featurettes (one of which is hidden in the extras menu but is easy to find.) The featurettes have interviews with the film’s director Sergio Sollima as well as comments from Testi (who is still looking great.) The featurettes are short but cover a wide range of topics, have some stills and even have spoiler warnings. Amongst other things the featurettes confirmed that Reed could be a bit of a handful (although he is spoken of very fondly.) The featurettes left me wanting more but that is so much better than wishing I had never watched them. The DVD also has trailers, brief bios, radio spots and some stills and posters. Nicely done!

All Together = ***
In some respects I suppose I may be a bit too hard on 'Revolver'. The film really does have great sequences. Morricone’s score is one of the more underrated pieces of music I have heard. For a guy that railed out the scores to movies he has made so many great pieces of music. This score has several great sections and as a whole really elevates the movie. There are two strong leads and Sollima is a solid director. Blue Underground is one of the best DVD houses around. They seem to treat all their titles with care no matter what the film and I hope it makes them successful. Recommended, although I should warn that there are several scenes of violence and nudity (I suspect that if you are the type of film viewer interested in 'Revolver' than that probably won’t be an issue but I thought I should mention it anyway.)


'Revolver' Links:


Blued Underground

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