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September 08, 2006 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-08

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2006

Statham tanks in
goofy action romp

A

By Christina Choi
Daily Arts Writer
FjisREvliw i ad
For the price of just one movie
ticket, you too can witness the
charm of Jason Statham ("Trans-
porter 2") butchering a British
accent. Lucky you.
In "Crank," Statham plays Chev
Chelios, a foulmouthed Los Ange-
les hitman
who awakens Crank
one morning
to find he's At the Showcase
been injected and Quality 16
with the ter- Lions Gate
rible "Beijing
cocktail;' a poison so deadly that
it turns fatal as soon as the victim's
heart rate drops too low. Basically,
it's like he swallowed the bomb on
the bus in "Speed."
Realizing that he has only one
hour left to live, Chev uses his
precious time to reaffirm his even
more precious manhood, first by
viciously bashing in his big-screen
TV then going off on a delirious
search for life-saving adrenaline
- and, of course, bloodthirsty
revenge.
He invites the audience to expe-
rience his pain. What follows is
a nauseating blend of shaky first-
person hand-held cameras, poorly
edited scenes and enough shots of
Statham's pasty rear to turn the
film's namesake into a require-
ment for its enjoyment. Yet while
a little speed may shed light on
the flimsy hospital gown Chev
wears when bizarrely channeling
scenes from "Titanic" ("I'm the
king of the world!") atop the seat
of a speeding motorcycle, the film
constantly trips over its abundance
of random setups. Inventive shots,
such as one from inside a micro-

wave, may fight briefly for artistry
amid the mess, but their scarcity
makes them entirely forgettable.
Instead, for the most part
"Crank" paints Chev as a crack
addict's role model - constantly
high, incapable of being arrested,
and unconditionally adored by a
beautiful girlfriend (Amy Smart,
"Just Friends"). She may throw
an ill-timed fit over forgetting
to take her birth control imme-
diately after witnessing Chev
coolly murder multiple men. But
she's a keeper, willing to get it on
right in the middle of Chinatown
while a bus filled with Asian
schoolgirls appreciatively looks
on. Of course.
Yet even with her mindless
role, Smart fairs far better than
the film's other women. Found in
the swanky rooftop apartment of
Chev's former employers, these
scantily clad ladies languish in
round glass pods like prizes in a
big gumball machine.
Granted, "Crank" from the
outset doesn't strive to be a cut-
ting-edge drama worthy of post-
box-office fame, and the lack of
pretense is refreshing. The film
lands squarely and happily within
the action genre, where it's per-
fectly OK to trade dialogue for
gunfire and character development
for greater onscreen nudity.
But while the prerequisites of
sex, drugs and violence are satis-
fied, both the plot and Statham's
character lack the hardcore style
that saved Arnold Schwarzeneg-
ger from being just another lowly
cyborg. While Statham quickly
navigates through a sea of blood
spurts and fricasseed body parts,
he's unable to turn Chev into
anything more than a pissed-off
adrenaline junkie searching for
his next fix.

Well, at least they went without any pain.
NEW ELECTRIC' SLID-E
NWDOCUMENTARY RETELLS THE GAS-FREE CAR'S DEMISE

4

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
The problem with a title like "Who
Killed the Electric Car?" is that it's a
question warranting an
answer no one can quite
stomach. As we hear of Who Killed
skyrocketing gas prices the Electric
and begin to see the Car?
long-touted effects of At the State
greenhouse emissions, Theater
the electric car is, to Sony Pictures Classics
the average person,
the perfect solution.
No more depending on foreign nations
or drilling three miles below the Gulf of
Mexico for oil; no more catastrophic mari-
time spills, smog alerts or $80-a-barrel to
feed an incessant addiction; just plug in the
electric car, charge it up and go.
You might think the electric car is tech-
nology of the future. Inexplicably, it's
already become technology of the past.
"Who Killed the Electric Car?" follows
the fall of the EVI, a revolutionary electric
that General Motors introduced on a mys-
teriously hesitant basis in 1996. Efficient,

stylish and exciting to drive, the car did
not require a drop of gasoline. Those lucky
few who managed to lease it (Tom Hanks,
Ted Danson and sadly Mel Gibson among
them) loved it so much that they inquired
about making a full purchase when their
leases expired.
But then they found out their sporty little
coupes had been set up. GM didn't really
care about weaning the nation off of gas
vehicles; it simply introduced the EV1 to
comply with the California Air Resource
Board's requirements for small percent-
ages of zero emission vehicles. By 2003
that requirement was dead, the victim of
assassins acting on behalf of auto compa-
nies, the oil industry and the Bush Admin-
istration. The EVls were rounded up and
crushed into litter at GM's private proving
grounds in Arizona, the very spot where
they had debuted a decade earlier.
"Who Killed the Electric Car?" excels
in compelling the audience by its clear,
unforgiving portrayal of all we have to
lose or have already lost. While the EV1
was certainly important in its own right,
this isn't simply about the electric car.
This is about our government failing to
act in our best interests, catering instead
to lobbyists.

With the murder of the EV1 - and
understand that it was murder, pure, con-
niving and contrived - the film gets at
the politically decrepit state of our soci-
ety. We complain continuously about what
is wrong (high gas prices) but are all too
satisfied to have politicians just pretend to
listen. They're no longer held accountable;
they flash ethanol or hydrogen fuel cells
before us and we pay no attention as they
quietly squash the very 'improvements"
they flaunt. Never mind that electrics were
far more efficient, available and affordable
than these other alternatives. It's a clas-
sic case of divide and conquer - split up
the environmentalist hippies into different
camps and let them sing their kumbayas in
their respective corners. If ever they were
to unite in chorus, people might hear them,
but that won't happen.
On that note, though the film ultimately
indicts the Bush Administration, auto com-
panies, the oil industry and CARB, the real
culprit has eluded us all once more. When
a government does not act in the best inter-
ests of its people, when car companies tell
us what to buy rather than build efficient
vehicles and when big oil doesn't simply
lobby the government, but becomes a part
of it, who is to blame?

4

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