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DVD Review

Crank: High Voltage
Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam

There’s really no middle ground when it comes to Crank: High Voltage. You’re either going to appreciate its hyperactive, ultraviolence and vulgarity for the live-action, slightly grown-up Tom and Jerry cartoon that it is. Or you’re not.
A good test would be to ask yourself how many of the Transporter trilogy of films you’ve seen. Two or more and you’re prefect Crank fodder. If you found it ridiculous, childish or pointless, however, then please feel free to stop reading now. Crank: High Voltage isn’t for you.
It’s the dribbling, giggling, weird little brother of any of star Jason Statham’s previous action flicks and it’s got a funny look in its eye.
The first Crank was billed as a sort of Speed in a person. Dodgy geeza’ Chev Chelios gets pumped full of a cocktail of drugs that will kill him if his heartbeat drops below a certain level.
This time around, Chelios’ heart has been nicked by nasty gangster types and the replacement organ needs constant electrical charging to keep him alive long enough to get his own one back.
What it really amounts to is an excuse for fighting, driving too fast, porn-star pickets, lewd public behaviour and creepy talking heads floating in jars of preservative.
Which is fine when taken with a few pounds of salt. It’s well-produced stupidity and doesn’t have pretensions of being anything beyond that.
The film is shot in a washed out, handheld style that gives it a grittier, scuzzier look than its predecessor and in some ways owes a lot to freaky, “drugs are bad” parable, Spun.
So if you like your thrills cheap, nasty and non-stop, Crank: High Voltage might just what you’re looking for.

State of Play
Directed by: Kevin McDonald
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams

Despite the horrors Kevin McDonald’s State of Play went through to make it to the big screen – Brad Pitt was in, then he wasn’t; Edward Norton was in then he wasn’t; the writers’ strike – the director of The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void would’ve had a hard time fundamentally screwing up a story with this sort of pedigree.
Based on the BBC mini-series that was, and still is, viewed with almost Wire-like reverence, McDonald transposed the six-hour political thriller from the streets of London to the Washington DC.
The story starts with what a random double killing and the apparent suicide of a political aide. Cal McAffery (Russell Crowe), aging reporter for the Washington Globe, who is investigating the double murder, gets roped into the proceedings when it turns out that the dead politico worked for his former college roomate and now high-flying congressman, Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck).
Initially trying to save his old buddy from some media mauling over the death of a former employee and his involvement in an investigation into a massive military company being employed by the US government in Iraq, McAffery gets paired with wide-eyed Capitol Hill blogger Della (Rachel McAdams) and guess what? The plot thickens!
State of Play weaves together various strands of hot news topics with considerable grace – old vs new media; control and trustworthiness of sources and mega-corporations covertly taking over governments all feature.
Crowe, Affleck and McAdams are ably assisted on their fast-paced and yes, thrilling, unravelling of a somewhat Byzantine conspiracy, by Helen Mirren and Jason Bateman who are their usual excellent selves.  And, beyond some slightly overwrought newsroom antics and dialogue, it all adds up to a fantastic piece of work.

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