I'm blaming Madonna. Because, after Ritchie's involvement in the universally-hated Swept Away, featuring Mrs. Ritchie, he then continued to implode with this wretched and confused excuse for a con-game flick. Outside of some films based on Chinese legends, it's not often I've had to read the Wikipedia synopsis of a movie, in order to try and find out what the hell was going on, but I had to here. What I do get, is grifter Jake Green (Statham) coming out prison after seven years in solitary. He's out for revenge on the crime boss, Macha (Liotta), responsible for crimes against Green's family, and to this end, hooks up with a pair of loan-sharks, Avi (Benjamin) and Zach (Pastore), who appear to draw him in with what seems to be a fictitious diagnosis of a terminal illness. In jail, Green had been housed between a master con-artist and a chess expert, and learned from them "The Formula," a system which allows any game to be won.
More than that, I'm really not prepared to say. It is, apparently, the first example of a violent crime flick, heavily influenced by Kaballah, the mystic belief in which Madonna was heavily involved at the time. You can see why it took more than a hundred years for cinema to make the effort, and hopefully, it'll be another hundred before anyone bothers again, because it sure does put the "babble" in "Kababbleah". If I had to speculate, it would be that this is about Green's journey to enlightenment, but it's coached in such obscurist terms, only someone with a degree in Kabbalahnomics could be able to grasp what it's taking about. For anyone else - particularly if you're expecting a typically Ritchie-esque romp through the urban underworld of East London - you're going to be out of your depth badly. As was Ritchie, who transfers from the Home Counties to Las Vegas, and loses just about everything that made him worth watching. Hell, Jason Statham even has hair. I couldn't stop staring at it. Yes, Ms. Ciccone: you've got a lot to answer for.