Crank: High Voltage

April 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakum
Directed by: Mark Neveldine (“Crank”) and Brian Taylor (“Brian”)
Written by: Mark Neveldine (“Crank”) and Brian Taylor (“Brian”)

In the final scene of the high-impact sequel “Crank: High Voltage,” action star Jason Statham – all bloodied and bruised and flaking away from the fire that has engulfed his broken-down body – looks straight into the camera and shoots his middle finger up in the air to reinforce his badass-ness.

It’s almost like an “f-you” to the audience, actually. “F-you” for sitting through the cinematic equivalent to someone with a neuropsychiatric disorder dropping acid, and “f-you” to anyone walking out of this thing not thinking it’s his best work to date.

Reprising his role as Chev Chelios, Statham, who has made a career out of dingy action flicks with the exception of the more intelligent “Bank Job” last year, starts where he left off from the original 2006 movie. If you don’t recall, at the end of the first one, Chev falls to his presumable death from a helicopter. Before the credits start rolling, however, you hear a faint heartbeat letting you know that a second “Crank” was probably on the horizon all along. Chev, of course, is not dead. He is whisked away into a van by surviving members of the Chinese mob and undergoes underground open heart surgery.

His own heart, which is to be implanted into an old Chinese mobster, is replaced with an artificial one fit with a battery pack to keep him alive. When Chev escapes his medical lair, a makeshift hospital where doctors are to harvest the rest of his organs, he sets off to find his real heart before he flatlines.

If you’re anticipating brainlessness for a quick 96 minutes of empty fun, you’ll be satisfied with the way the first 20 minutes play out as Chev goes ballistic on everyone he sees. This includes a scene where he sticks a shotgun barrel up the butt of a cholo. He also has time to reconnects with his girl Eve (Amy Smart) at a local strip club, meets Venus (Efren Ramirez), the twin brother of now-deceased Kaylo (also played by Ramirez) from the original, and keeps his buddy Doc (Dwight Yoakum) updated on his heart condition via cell phone.

“If you can get a hold of your heart,” Doc tells him, “I’m reasonably sure I can put it back in for you.” Is there any better reason to continue with this charade?

There’s no room for reality in “Crank: High Voltage,” and that’s what keeps it pumping for the first few scenes. However, the film turns into a check list of ways Chev can keep his heart pumping  (i.e. sex on a horseracing track, jumper cables on his nipples) before the bad guys enter in for another beat down. If you’re down with Statham’s previous line of work, you’ll more than likely be pleased with “High Voltage.” Everyone else probably would get more of a jolt sticking any appendage in a wall socket.

Mirrors

August 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Amy Smart
Directed by: Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes”)
Written by: Alexandre Aja (“High Tension”) and Gregory Levassure (“P2”)

If this really is the only live action film work actor Kiefer Sutherland can get while shooting his ever-popular “24” series, then it might be a good idea for him to stick to the TV show until some free time grants him more of a clear his head before jumping into one of the worst films of the year.

There’s nothing frightening or exciting about “Mirrors,” French filmmaker Alexandre Aja’s first film since grossing us out with the remake of “The Hills Have Eyes” two years ago. The only horrifying thing about the film is that Aja, who is considered to be part of the new “Splat Pack” of directors focusing on gory details to reel audiences into their bordello of blood, was actually given a paycheck by 20th Century Fox to make this.

The thoughtless story begins as ex-NYPD officer Ben Carson (Sutherland), who is put on an undetermined leave of absence after killing a man, finds work as a security guard for a gutted department story destroyed three years ago in a fire. What Ben doesn’t know is that there’s an evil presence trapped inside the mirrors of the store that causes anyone that looks at their own reflection to see things that are not there and do harm to themselves.

Soon, the dark power inside the mirrors follows Ben away from his worksite and begins to threaten his sister (Amy Smart), ex-wife (Paula Patton) and two children. The only way Ben can save his family is to research the history behind the store and find out what the entity wants before it strikes again.

“Mirrors” is unwatchable simply because of the poorly-written script by Aja and co-writer Gregory Levassure. There are unintentional moments of humor when Sutherland screams at the mirrors, “What do you want with me!” and predictable dialogue when a morgue employee makes a joke about “seven years bad luck.” That is the scope of what “Mirrors” offer. Well, that and the usual gruesome accents Aja tosses in to keep his bloodthirsty reputation on the lowest of plateaus. Good thing he cast someone like Sutherland, who knows from his 1990 film what it’s like to flatline.