out of Five
Running time: 90
Enjoyably fast-paced, gloriously trashy thriller with some inventive directorial touches.
What's it all about?
Jason Statham stars as Chev Chelios, a British hit man in Los Angeles who wakes up to find that he's been poisoned with some Chinese synthetic stuff and only has one hour to live. However, Chelios discovers that adrenaline will keep him alive, so he hurtles through Los Angeles, doing drugs, committing crimes and even having sex with his girlfriend (Amy Smart) in public, in order to keep his heart-rate up long enough to either find the antidote or exact his revenge before he carks it.
The premise (it's like Speed, only Jason Statham is the bus) is nothing short of inspired, even if it is partially ripped off a 1940s film noir called D.O.A. Writer-director Mark Neveldine takes this central idea and runs with it, throwing anything and everything in Chev's path, to increasingly amusing effect.
The action scenes are well handled and frequently inventive, such as Chev driving through a mall and stacking his car sideways on the escalator. There are also some bizarre throwaway scenes.
Aside from maintaining a breathlessly fast pace throughout, Neveldine also employs some unusual directorial flourishes to keep things interesting, such as projecting split-screen scenes on the walls of a corridor when Chev is talking on the phone and using subtitles and captions for comic effect.
Statham isn't stretched much beyond his standard screen persona (gruff, thuggish), but he's perfectly watchable here, aided by a sharply written script that throws up some decent one-liners. Smart proves surprisingly game with her underwritten role and there's good support from Jose Cantillo as Chev's nemesis.
In short, this is an enjoyably trashy, frequently amusing thriller that exploits its ingenious premise for maximum thrills. Worth seeing.