Film review

Full Speed Ahead

DIRECTED BY Jonas Åkerlund

STARRING Mickey Rourke, Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy

Opens November 21, Cert 18, 101 mins

We've just got out of a car driven by Jason Schwartzman, who's so wired on speed his teeth are rattling uncontrollably like dice in a shaker. He's pulled over in the parking lot of a motel—the kind of shithole even cockroaches steer clear of. The camera follows him at ankle height as he staggers towards one of the rooms, an equally fucked-up Brittany Murphy in tow. The door opens, and the camera settles on a pair of white cowboy boots, slowly pulling up to reveal a pair of worn and faded jeans, a white jacket and a white stetson, pulled down low over the face of its wearer. The head is raised, a gimlet smile flashes through blistered lips, and Mickey Rourke is back. Hell, where you been?

It's a great moment, flashing fucked-up cool at you with 1000 volts. Rourke proceeds to steal the show as The Cook, a porn-obsessed cowboy chemist brewing up amphetamines in his motel room. He gets to utter the immortal line, "Ask not what a pussy can do for you, but what you can do for a pussy," while "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays in the background. He takes Schwartzman under his wing for a three-day road trip-cum-drug binge. I guess you could call it a buddy movie. Murphy plays Rourke's girlfriend, Nikki. There are a great many cameos—from John Leguizamo as psychotic speed dealer Spider Mike and Mena Suvari as his girl Cookie, all covered in skin welts, to Peter Stormare and Alexis Arquette as mulleted and moustachioed cops. Debbie Harry turns up as Rourke's lesbian neighbour and, look, there's Eric Roberts, in the most ridiculous wig imaginable, playing the campest drug kingpin you'll ever see.

This is a white-trash, gonzo cult classic in the making. The script, from a couple of guys called—perhaps improbably—Will de los Santos and Creighton Vero, is as shallow as fuck; there's no narrative arcs, no character development to speak of. The Billy Corgan soundtrack is junkie country, while Åkerlund—who made his name directing videos for U2, Madonna and Robbie Williams—shoots everything too bright and jagged, just like the world looks after a three-day bender. It's perverse and unpleasant. Many people will think it's a low-rent rip-off of Requiem For A Dream or Trainspotting. Make your own mind up. I laughed for days after.

Rating: 4 / 10


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