“Society has many ways of defending itself: red tape, prison bars, or the revolver.” Three friends separated by time and circumstance, one of them has reached the end of the line, Jean-Daniel Auger shot in a robbery gone wrong and dying in the arms of Milo Ruiz in the dawn light, begging not to be taken to a morgue and cut up but instead left by the riverbank and covered with rocks.
In Paris, a man is murdered, an oil magnate gunned down on the streets, the assailant fleeing on a motorbike which belonged to rock star Al Niko which he gave away years before; asked to identify a body which was found by the burned-out bike, he is pressed to confirm that this was indeed the remains of his friend Jean-Daniel Auger, allowing the sensitive case to be closed. The only person who can say otherwise is Milo Ruiz, now in the Monsart Penitentiary in Rome.
A tangle of murder, blackmail and distrustful partnerships of mutual need, Revolver was directed by Sergio Sollima from a script co-written with Arduino Maiuri and Massimo De Rita, starring The Heroin Busters’ Fabio Testi as Ruiz and The Damned’s Oliver Reed as Vito Cipriani, vice governor of the prison where Ruiz is held and pressed to arrange for his escape when his wife Anna (Agostina Belli) is kidnapped, neither realising that the end game is not freedom but silence.
Originally released in 1973 and known in different territories as Blood in the Streets and In the Name of Love, Revolver falls into the poliziottesco genre but has a wide scope, Cipriani and Ruiz making their way to France via adventure in the snowbound Alps only to find out that the corruption they hoped to leave behind has already taken the short route ahead of them, tracking back to a dead man that neither of them even knew and leaving a trail of bodies behind.
Ignoring that it would have been less complicated to bribe a guard and have Ruiz killed while inside than out, the prison break is ridiculously easy, Ruiz simply prying a few boards off a window in the shower block, and with almost impenetrable layers of duplicity and tenuous connections between characters it feels like crucial exposition did not make it to the final cut, nor is the film helped by the sound having been recorded separately with both English and Italian dialogue while the actors on film are quite obviously mouthing their native languages.
Restored for its UK Blu-ray debut for Eureka’s Classics range with both audio options, Revolver is accompanied by a commentary by Kim Newman and an interview with film scholar Stephen Thrower, but despite frustrations which go beyond the patchy plot, the subtitles sometimes stating unhelpfully “speaks foreign” and ignoring written communications entirely, the trio of Reed, Testi, Daniel Beretta (Niko) and Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack are just about sufficient to carry the film.