Sunday, 30 August 2009

Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious (also known as The Fast and The Furious 4, not that this makes any goddamn difference) is, as its name implies, the fourth installment in The Fast and The Furious franchise, starring Vin Diesel as the lead Dominic Toretto, Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriguez. Obviously, with three precedessors managing to gross a substantial amount of money (but not much critical acclaim), we were bound to see a fourth title at one point. And it didn't take that damn long for the producers to milk the (faltering) cashcow yet again.

I like to start at the beginning, as in how Vin Diesel is an extremely limited actor. Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. He was great in the first The Fast and the Furious movie, and he was bloody awesome in xXx. Put him in an action-packed movie, and that's where he shines. Get him to portray emotionally-ridden characters, and that's where he spectacularly fails.

At the start of Fast & Furious 4, Letty (played by Michelle Rodriguez), Dom's girlfriend, is murdered, and Dom returns to town to track down the murderer. This is also where we are supposed to sympathise with him for the loss of his girlfriend, but Diesel's portrayal of someone whose girlfriend has just been murdered is extremely unconvincing, and from that point forward, it is hard to relate with the character. The good thing about this is that this made me think back to the good old days of Steven Seagal, the master of one-dimensional characters.

Fast & Furious 4 is marginally better than Tokyo Drift (which is the timeline sequel to this fourth movie), but that's not saying much. The overall acting is sub-par, but considering this is essentially a B-movie, there's no point nitpicking. I'm not saying B-movies should equal poor acting, but this seems to be the Hollywood trend nowadays. However, since I am me, I will instead criticize something else.

As far as plot goes, there's not much in there other than the typical "guy wants revenge for his murdered girlfriend" story. There are however glaring flaws, the biggest one revolving around the bad buy Bragga (the usually excellent John Ortiz). The screenwriter actually tried to put in a plot twist revolving Bragga, where we find out that he has been hiding his identity. This could have worked, except for the fact that the FBI already had a file on him, but apparently nobody bothered to search for him in the database. I'm guessing the movie would have been at least five minutes shorter had they been logical, so they just had to piss all over the story with this kind of retarded detail. Back in my days, law enforcement was better portrayed in popular media.

The action is actually pretty good, but it's mainly about cars....and cars. I am having a hard time believing that all the car stuff that happens in the movie is actually possible, but the chases are pretty well-done and the cars being the movie's highlight, Fast & Furious pulls this off nicely. However, Fast & Furious 4 basically lacks charisma, substance, and whatever it is that makes people want to keep watching a movie. I felt thoroughly indifferent to what was going on, and there's nothing much to look at other than the cars. This is probably because the basic premise in The Fast and The Furious movies is one that gets old fairly quickly, and the novelty of the first title has already worn off. As a treat, here's a picture of Vin Diesel in 10 years:

Steven Seagal

Monday, 3 August 2009

Crank 2: High Voltage

I'm sure everybody's watched Pulp Fiction. There are many great things about Pulp Fiction, and there is no doubt that Tarantino's uniquely-directed movie deserves to be hailed as a classic. However, Christopher Walken's performance as a soldier on a mission is probably the best thing in the entire movie, which is surprising considering he doesn't even get that much screentime. That however doesn't suffice to take away from his powerful portrayal of a soldier who walks with a watch up his ass to keep a promise he made to a man who's no longer alive. That's the kind of person Christopher Walken is. He will shove a watch up his ass and keep it there for two frigging years.

Crank 2: High Voltage, as the sequel to Crank, was highly anticipated after the surprising success of the original. In this sequel, Jason Statham returns as Chev Chevios, the man who can never die. Since he can never die, we can safely deduce that there will indeed be a third Crank. In Crank 2, Chevios needs to run around looking for his heart, which has been stolen by the Chinese mafia.

That's it for the story.

While the story is obviously thin, Crank 2: High Voltage could probably still have been a great movie. As an example, the first Crank itself didn't have much of a plot, but it nevertheless sucked people in and was a terrific movie, at least as far as action flicks go. Crank 2: High Voltage is the complete opposite and will probably puke you out, if you are not puking yourself after 20 minutes.

It's hard to find anything even remotely praise-worthy in Crank 2. In fact, it takes real effort to keep watching High Voltage because of the extremely poor dialogue. The lines are cheesy, and not in the good way. As a good example of cause and effect, the horrible dialogue makes the acting equally poor. This is made even worse by the over-the-top acting and the fact that none of the actors in the movie, except for the lead, can actually act. Having over-the-top acting from a couple of actors can usually be a good thing, but when it involves all the actors, it turns out that it's not such a good thing after all.

The most important thing about Crank: High Voltage is that it's gross, and it's gross just for the sake of being gross. This isn't a case where the gross scenes have a reason for being in a movie and where they are well directed. Instead, it's as over-the-top as the acting. Crank 2: High Voltage is mainly about being gross, and something gross happens every two minutes, not taking into consideration the scene where we are shown a horse's genitalia. Yes, horse genitalia! That should be the point where you stop watching the movie.

At one point, High Voltage decides to step even further into the absurd and presents us with a severed head that is nevertheless alive. Fortunately, this happens quite far into the movie and at that point, Jason Statham could have turned out to be a tranny who's always high on coke (which he is, in a certain way) and I wouldn't even have cared. Before that, you will view a scene where Statham shoves a rifle up an obese man's ass. This may sound great, but it certainly is not as great as Christopher Walken shoving a watch up his own ass in Pulp Fiction.

The bottom line? I would not recommend anybody to watch Crank 2: High Voltage. In fact, I'd rather walk with a watch up my ass. That, and Jason Statham will never be as cool as Christopher Walken after this mess. He should stick a watch up his ass too.

Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction