I like Guy Ritchie. I think Snatch and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels are great action comedies, probably as great as that genre can get. But wow, does this movie suck. Ritchie abandons his trademark style for something much more boorish; he tries to make some sort of philosophical or psychological statement on the ego (not the I-think-highly-of-myself ego, but the id vs. ego vs. superego kind). I'm not against action movies with a philosophical bent--The Thin Red Line and To End All Wars both do a great job of combining philosophy and action--but you have to make sure to not confuse your audience along the way. I'm good at following plotlines and whatnot, but I was so confused in this movie that I almost turned it off a number of times. I think I understood what he was going for in the film's final five minutes, but the payoff was not nearly enough to override the previous 90 minutes.
Jason Statham--who emerged from Guy Ritchie's stable of actors--stars opposite Ray Liota. Statham is in a lot of terrible movies, but he's good in Ritchie's films. I love Ray Liota; Field of Dreams, Goodfellas, Narc ... all solid. But they weren't given much to work with here. Gone is the witty and biting dialogue of Snatch, only to be replaced by mediocre monologues and second-rate speech. Oddly, Big Boi (from Outkast) is also one of the stars of this movie, which makes me think Ritchie had trouble finding people who wanted to star in the film after they read the screenplay.
At the end of the film, Ritchie tries to implement an Ocean's 11 type of switcharoo, but I saw it coming from a mile away. And then he tries to pile on a statement about the ego--which he clearly thinks is going to blow your mind--on top of that. It's just sad. Guy, I understand that you want to step out of the comfortable mold you've created, but face it, you're good at what you do (Snatch/LockStock), so I won't think less of you if you continue to make great comedic-action films.
Final Grade: D-
Blurb: You'll be disappointed if you expect this to be Snatch; actually, you'll be disappointed if you expect this movie to do anything but suck. Memo to Guy Ritchie: kudos for trying, there's nothing wrong with sticking with what you know. A for effort, F for failure.