Hearts are for wimps. Adrenaline is what the big boys play with.
Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) has had problems with his heart, but this time: it’s almost worse. This go-around, Chev still has the bad heart but also faces a Chinese mobster, who has stolen his nearly-indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working. This provides many, many problems for Chev, as you could expect, but problems he and his gal (Amy Smart) can’t solve on their own. If, you know what I mean?
If you walked away from the original Crank thinking that it was the dumbest ideas, and a brainless exercise only made as a gimmick because it was quick, fast, and raunchy for a reason: then this definitely won’t be your bag. However, if that first one was a brainless exercise you didn’t mind removing the insides of your head for, then grab a red bull, grab a bunch of buddies, and get ready to go! Woo-hoo! I’m amped-up already!
I don’t know what the hell writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor do in their spare time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys spend their weekends by snorting lines, picking up hookers, playing video-games, and then document all of their crazy and wild adventures of the night into a screenplay. Sounds a little far-fetched and a bit too 80′s glam star rock-starish to me, but I could see it happening because they really upped the ante with this one. For better and for worse, all depending on the type of person you are. The original worked so well as it did because it was fun, fast-paced, all-over-the-place, knowingly-stupid, and didn’t for a second take itself seriously. Granted, it wasn’t always the non-stop ride I would have expected to be in the pleasure of (you know, because the guy’s got a heart that needs to live on freakin’ adrenaline!), but still worked for my crazy mind at the time and that’s what made me happy to see these guys get all buck wild again.
The story starts off three months from where the last one ended and right after the first 5 minutes, the film gets right back into it’s hard-hitting, quick-moving, action-filled pace. But this time, everything and anything would, and quite possibly could, indeed happen. This film definitely isn’t afraid to be considered “offensive” and definitely doesn’t care what characters people want to see alive or dead. Anybody could be offed at any second, and you never know if the scene you get with one person where they are acting like total jack-asses, will be their last-time alive on-screen for us to have the pleasure of seeing. Or displeasure, wherever you stand on this one. This idea made the movie fun because it truly made me wonder just where the hell this story was going, and whwre exactly the creators were going to end-up with. There is also plenty of the shootings, killings, murders, tits, ass, blood, and bullets, but the story is what kept me really alive and interested. Got to give a lot of love to Neveldine/Taylor for not just trying to cash-in on a sequel and do nothing cool with it. Can’t say the same thing about the Ghost Rider sequel, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all.
One of the finer elements of the first movie was it’s humor and how everything, no matter how innate or crazy, happened for a reason and that was to mainly just entertain us some more for shits and gigs. That’s here once again, but in full-force mode. Everything that you would expect to be wacky, wild, and just totally insane to happen, does happen in the typical, over-the-top fashion and added a lot of joy to the final proceedings. However, I think Neveldine/Taylor got a little bit of a hot-head with everything, because they sort of over-do what could have been a movie that was just as funny as the first, if not more hilarious.
All of the funny happenings that made the first movie so comical, are here, but also seem to be very stretched-out and exaggerated for cheap-laughs. Like laughs you’ve already had before, but this time: is MORE EXTREME. For instance, the infamous scene from the first movie where Chev bones his girl in-front of a bunch of people in Chinatown is here, but this time, done to even bigger and badder effect. It still shows Chev boning his girl, but what makes it so much MORE EXTREME, is that it’s played-out in front of a horse-racing crowd, packed to the gills with people. Does it work? Yeah, I guess you could say it’s funny for the first 5 minutes or so, but then after awhile, the film starts to become like one of those lame-ass SNL sketches that never get the idea that they’re funny, and just continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole, almost until the point everybody wants it just burn to the ground, die, and never come back to life, including the actors apart of the skit as well.
I know I went into a long-ass description about this movie’s abilities to try their hardest to be funnier than the first, but it’s the truth. It follows all of the same formulas of most sequels, where more of everything is needed, just to up the stakes a bit more. That works when it comes to the plot, the action, and the pacing of the movie, but the humor just constantly keeps on hitting you over-the-head, and it becomes an annoyance after awhile. Maybe too much blow was the reason for that problem here. Just maybe.
No matter what “action film of the month” Jason Statham does, he always give it his biggest and best shot, and his second go-around as Chev Chelios is no different. Statham is a respectable action star in this movie, because he isn’t that afraid to put himself into some embarrassing and goofy situations, but also doesn’t shy-away from major bad-assery, as well. Chelios finds himself in more-ridiculous situations this time around, but it’s so easy to root for him that you don’t even care how many innocents he kills or how many crimes he gets away with. The guy is the freakin’ man and he kicks ass almost every single second he gets a chance to. And also, the guy gets to bone Amy Smart in front of almost every person to see! If that doesn’t show you how bad-ass he is, I don’t know what the hell will!
Speaking of our “bone gal for the hour”, Amy Smart gets to show a bit more of what she’s got as Eve, which I was real happy about because the chick can pull off some great moments, if she’s ever given the chance to. Not only does she get to show-off that she can be hot, sexy, and down to bang at any second of the day, but also gets to flex her action-muscles and actually have you feel like if she needed to, she could totally kick your ass and defend her man. That Jason Statham, is one hell of a lucky man. Even if he really isn’t Chev Chelios and getting the chance to bang Amy Smart in real-life. Then again, something tells me he totally is and it’s all just an act of his. If that’s the case, give the guy the freakin’ Oscar now!
As with any other sequel in the history of sequels, we get the original characters, but also a slew of new ones, and as the case with most sequels: some work and some just seem like filler. Bai Ling was really freakin’ cool as a prostitute named Ria, who keeps on calling Chelios, “her Kevin Costner to her Whitney Houston”. Ling has never really gotten to be this bad-ass before and it’s really surprising to see how well she can pull it off. It also helps matters too, that she’s practically half-naked throughout the whole movie so there’s definitely some fun in watching that, as well. The late, and I don’t know if he’s considered this by now, but great Corey Haim also happens to show up as some mullet, d-bag that gets involved with wild proceedings of Chev Chelios’ life, and it’s pretty cool to see the guy back in a major-role, in a major-movie release. Even if the movie is, Crank: High Voltage. Clifton Collins Jr. gets to pull off some campy villainous ish as the Elvis impersonator, El Huron. Collins Jr. does what he does best here, and that’s to totally over-play his evil role, even though I wonder if he and Michael Rooker have placed a bet against one-another to see who can bitch-out of being a villain in every movie they do, first. It’s going to be close, but something tells me Rooker may lose that one. To go along with Haim, we also get another late and great in this movie; and that just so happens to be David Carradine playing a character named Poon Dong. That’s right: one of David Carradine’s last roles ever was playing a guy named “Poon Dong”. The best thing about this wild and crazy cast of characters is that each and every person knows about the joke, and is totally in on it so to just watch them show-up, for no other reason other than to get pummeled by bullets, was a-okay with me.
Consensus: If you loved the first movie, then Crank: High Voltage will be exactly for you. It’s got naked women, guns, blood, gore, a fast-pace, Jason Statham kicking ass, and a Amy Smart sex scene. However, like most sequels, it’s a bit of an over-kill with it’s jokes that never seem to end or seem rehashed from the first one.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Think of it as a more subtler-version of Machete. I think that’s about right.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Pete Perkins, a Texas rancher who, following the death of his jolly pal Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo), is compelled to unearth the Mexican’s corpse in order to honor Mel’s request to be buried back home where his wife and children live without him, but in doing-so, he brings the man who killed him, a border patrol guard named Mike Norton (Barry Pepper).
It seems like with all of the strict and heavy-owned laws against illegal immigration, that it would only be right for a filmmaker to come out there, speak his mind, and show us how we all are all the same, just with different heritages. I never would have thought that that filmmaker in-question would be Tommy Lee Jones of all people, but hey, who better??
Well, after watching this movie, I could probably answer that rhetorical question by saying, “anybody, really”. This is Jones’ directorial-debut and although the guy definitely seems like he has a general-idea of what he’s doing, what’s he trying to say, and how he’s getting his point-across, it still feels like a first flick of a director that doesn’t quite know what he’s doing just yet. The problem that Jones runs into with this flick, is that he doesn’t know where or what to focus on and instead of giving one piece of the story line the most attention and detail, he instead tries to have it all of the other, different ways, and just jam-pack them all in there for good fun. All the story lines and sub-plots that Jones throws in here, are all pretty fun and amusing to watch, but they take away from what could have been a real, emotional-trip that looked at the way human-nature is, and how it’s misfortunes can be cured.
That general idea and message that Jones seems to get across, does eventually get said and pointed-out to the audience, but not as strong or as emotionally-impacting as it could have been. There are too many moments where the flick seems to jump back-and-forth between all of these different stories and characters, and as interesting as they all may truly be, they still take the steam and energy out of what Jones seems like he was going for in the first-place. You’ll come to know these characters for all that they are, for better or worse, but there comes a point where you start to have enough of them and just want to Jones to get on with whatever the hell he’s trying to point-out. It’s a long, slow-trip that I didn’t mind taking in the first-place, but at the same time, I also feel like it’s a trip I would have enjoyed a whole lot more, had Jones knew how to edit his film the right way and shave off about 15 to 20 minutes of the final-product.
Then again, it is a Western and Westerns are usually long, slow, filled with themes that discuss morality, and featuring plenty shots of the harsh and unforgiving desert. If there is anything that Jones does do right as a director in this flick, it’s that he does know how to keep an interesting story, just exactly as that and never for once did he really lose my attention. Yes, some moments seemed like they were unneeded in the grand scheme of things, but you start to focus on what Jones is doing as a director, and realize that the guy’s making your typical Western, except a whole lot more subtle than you’d expect.
The morality theme doesn’t really hit hard until the last 10 minutes, and it becomes very clear what it is exactly that Jones is trying to get-across, it’s actually very thoughtful. Without giving too much away and spoiling the moral dilemma this film brings-up very clearly, I’ll just say that the actual death of this main character isn’t a very easy one to understand, and in ways, you don’t really know who you fell bad for more. Him, or the guy who killed him. It’s not an easy decision to swallow and try to think about, and this flick definitely isn’t about the easy answers and that’s something I really have to give Jones credit for. There may not be a whole lot here that really works well with this central-theme, except for the last 10 minutes, but those last 10 minutes will actually stick with you, and they are what I forgive Jones for mainly. However, when you look at the final-picture, there is something that’s left to be desired.
Tommy Lee Jones as a director may not be the finest piece-of-work he has ever done, but Tommy Lee Jones as the main-actor in this story, well that’s a different story. Tommy Lee Jones is basically playing Tommy Lee Jones, but you know what? It doesn’t matter all that much because he’s good, believable, and a pretty stand-up guy that you feel like has a reason to be mad and do all of this nutty-shit, but also feel like he’s a nicer-man than he’ll have you believe by his thoughts or his actions. TLJ is always good when he’s playing himself and even though it’s nothing new or refreshing we haven’t seen from the guy already, it’s still a nice-spectacle to see, even if his direction may not be able to catch-up quite as much with his acting.
Playing the guy that practically gets forced and carried on this long, grueling trip is Barry Pepper, a very, very underrated actor that really makes his character work like gangbusters, even if the script doesn’t seem like they really know what to do with him. By that, I mean that the guy definitely seems like the type of character you don’t know whether to like, trust, or even give a shit about, but somehow, the movie doesn’t feel the need to develop him at all to make us think any of these things. He’s sort of just there, getting dragged-around, looking dirty, and being scared to high heavens of when exactly he’s going to die and be buried with this dude that he killed. Pepper makes it a performance that’s worth your while and I can definitely say it’s one of the meatier performances I’ve seen from him in quite some-time, but just like TLJ’s direction, there’s a lot left to be desired here and it’s a real shame, too, because this character could have really been the most memorable one of the bunch.
The supporting cast is pretty solid, too, and definitely make this film all the more entertaining, even if TLJ doesn’t exactly know when to stop focusing on them and get on with the actual story. January Jones plays Pepper’s bored and lonely housewife that begins to realize she can get a real kick out of life, if she just learns to live a little and sleep around with some fellow-cowboys. Jones learns that from Melissa Leo’s character, who seems like she’s practically been fucking every guy in town. That is, every guy that isn’t her husband. Leo and Jones are great together as the two, wild and free gals that seem to love being in everybody’s else’s beds, and getting a fresh-taste of life, among other things, they both seem like nice characters for another movie where their presence’s are used more and help move the story along. After awhile, they just become a drag to the story and only there for Jones to show us that it’s not a total sausage-fest. Dwight Yoakam is also perfectly-cast as the dimwit Marshall of the little county that says he doesn’t need Viagra, but yet, can never seem to be able to get it up when he’s about to bone Leo. I don’t know what his deal is, I’d be ready as soon as I saw her walking towards me.
Consensus: Underneath all of the constant subplots, characters, and added-on explanations that feel unneeded, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada actually has a nice point to bring-up about friendship and human-nature, that is well-performed and brought-out very well by Pepper and Jones, but in the end, seems like it wasn’t focused on enough to really make much of a difference in the end, and just seems like a trouble, first-movie for TLJ. And that, is exactly what it is, too.
5.5 / 10 = Rental!!
It’s what it would be like for Forrest if he took coke before his big run.
The film centers on a British hitman in Los Angeles named Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) who is poisoned and must keep his adrenaline flowing constantly in order to keep himself alive, and in so doing causes mayhem, gets into fights with other gangsters, has altercations with the police and takes numerous drugs.
Take the basic concept of ‘Speed’ mix it up with a little bit of ‘Oldboy’ and throw in some ‘Falling Down’ for good measure, and there you have Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor directorial debuts. Sounds crazy, which it is.
This action film is pretty cool considering it has a concept that is used well and isn’t taken seriously one bit. The humor here ranges from deadpan, to tongue-in-cheek, and then surprisingly to dark material as we see some innocent bystanders get thrown into the deaths for good measure. There were moments where I actually found myself laughing at this flick and what it was doing, and I think the film was doing that along with me. The dialogue is definitely a lot snappier and cooler than we come to expect from our average action flick so we are spared the bad dialogue and attempt at character development, and instead we get blood, gore, and lots and lots of violence.
The action in this flick also works mainly because of the direction from these two dudes, who give the film this style that is actually one of the first to use this kind. These guys use a bunch of crazy techniques like the shaky-cam, to four-way split screens, and then to some graphics and special effects that you would see in video games, which all may take awhile to get used to after awhile but keep this film’s energetic and frenetic pace moving at a quick speed. It was also great to actually Quiet Riot and NOFX on a movie soundtrack, so that’s definitely a plus.
My only problem with this flick is that I feel like they kind of dropped the ball sometimes on their own premise. It seems like half-way through that these guys sort of forgot that Chelios had to keep on moving at a rapid pace in order to stay alive because there were plenty moments here when he would actually tries to slow things down and talk to the bad guys. This happens a numerous amount of times and I also just felt like they could have definitely done more of him ass-kicking people as well. I mean yeah, we get to see him shoot people but we never actually get to see a fist-fight every once and awhile but then again, maybe that’s just me being weird expecting more from a film called ‘Crank’.
Jason Statham definitely made this film work with his whole performance as Chelios because he’s the perfect kind of action star that can make you laugh your ass off at, but the next second he could totally scare the shit out of you by how scary and serious he can be. Statham has to do a lot of crazy things here like snorting and injecting just about everything in sight, running around the city half-naked, and even boning his girl in front of all of these Chinese people, and he makes it all work because he never seems to take himself too seriously here. Statham is the perfect fit for this kind of role and it was also even cooler to hear that he did his own stunts, which is always a bonus for me.
Amy Smart is playing that woman-in-peril act as Chelios’s girlfriend, Eve, but she’s good in this role because she actually adds a lot of sexiness to her role and her and Statham actually a have a nice little chemistry that seems playful but also very sexxed up. I wish the villains were a lot badder but then again, I don’t think it much mattered considering all I wanted to do was see Statham run around like a wild banshee, and that is exactly what I got.
Consensus: Crank may have some slow parts here and there, but its still a fun, energetic, and not-so serious thrill ride that knows what it is and isn’t trying to be anything else. Also helps that you have Jason Statham in your lead role too but then again, that’s always a given.
Home Alone 4: The Revenge
This thriller centers on a divorcée (Jodie Foster) and her daughter (Kristen Stewart) who are caught in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with three burglars (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam) in their New York City brownstone, retreating to the vault-like safety of their aptly named panic room. As the intruders try to breach the room’s security, the embattled duo must stay one step ahead.
Out of all of David Fincher‘s films, this one is considered his weakest (that’s if you’re not including Aliens 3). However, this one isn’t so bad, considering it’s his most Hollywood-friendly film to date.
What Fincher does best here is make this pretty simple plot, and make it something that leaves you on the edge of your seat, the whole time. The dark style that Fincher uses works well for this film because it takes down the idea that your house is a beautiful little place, that no intruders can ever get into, and thinking about somebody breaking into our place is just unsettling to think about.
Fincher takes his dear old and sweet time with this pace which makes all of the suspense a lot more taut, and keeps you guessing even though you have a feeling you know what’s going to happen next. There’s a couple of cool camera-tricks that Fincher uses to fully get us knowing that we are in this one little house, with these people, and basically trapped with no way out. It’s crazy because Fincher really tools with our mind in all the right ways, and makes this film more than just your simple, average hostage-thriller.
The main problem with this film is not in Fincher’s directing as much as it is in the story itself. I liked the whole plot and thought it was simple enough to be thrilling but I did find myself guessing just what was going to happen next, and woolah, it did. The problem here is that three bad guys here just so happen to be a bunch of misfits that are pretty much psychopathic, or inexperienced with the exclusion of one person, who is pretty easy to figure out right away. In a way, I knew who was going to die, and who wasn’t (or in this case, who can’t) and what was going to happen in the end. However, I was still in suspense the whole time really.
From what I heard, Fincher was going to cast Nicole Kidman in the lead role but then she messed up her knee or something so she was put as a cameo here, and I have to say that I’m glad that they chose who they chose. Jodie Foster is really good in this role because she starts off all nerdy, and actually sad, but then turns into this vengeful, stop-at-nothing, crazy ladies who wants nothing but to get out of this situation alive. Foster is very good at driving all these emotions from her character just from her facial expressions, and although she almost rarely smiles in this film, she still is a delight to watch. Kristen Stewart does a good job in a very early role, and will probably stop any Twi-hard fans from having any boners over her after watching this. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam are all good as the bad dudes, and each contribute great performances for three guys that you wouldn’t expect to actually be written well at all. Pretty small cast, for a relatively small film, but overall good job from the whole cast involved.
Consensus: Panic Room may suffer from it’s script, but David Fincher creates suspenseful tension and makes this simple plot, better than just your average-thriller.