Judge David Johnson used to steal cars for a living until he lost interest and decided to pursue a career in the non-profit sector.
Our review of Crash And Burn / Robot Wars, published June 1st, 2011, is also available.
Life in the fast lane.
Michael Madsen teams up with that guy from ER in a half-assed Fast and the Furious knockoff.
Facts of the Case
Kevin Hawkins (Eric Palladino) is an undercover FBI agent sent to infiltrate a car theft ring led by the greasy Vincent (Madsen) an eccentric, incoherent badass. To complete his mission, Hawkins must re-enter a world he had left years ago and ingratiate himself with his old dirtbag friends.
As he sinks deeper and deeper into the underworld, he'll cross paths with a rival gang that likes to set people on fire, attempt to reestablish a relationship with an old girlfriend, throw wads of meat at pit bulls and steal lots of cars in the middle of the day, all while maintaining an A-number-1 porn star mustache.
As previously stated, Crash and Burn is half-assed, but it's not all ass.
Palladino's character is a tough nut, and does is macho thing well. His cohorts, on the other hand, are uniformly irritating. His best friend never once made me think he was something other than a goofy comic relief sidekick, much less a hardened car-stealing criminal. In fact the whole car-boosting gang that he's infiltrated is so squeaky clean I found it hard to swallow that they could survive one week in a felon-riddled neighborhood. This "gang" was more like the pit crew of a Herbie movie. In fact, there was such a dull edge to the film that when the rival gang sets one of Hawkins's crew on fire in a surprisingly hard-to-watch immolation scene, it was a shocker.
On the FBI side, no surprises. Hawkins's handler is an ill-tempered bureaucrat blowhard who doesn't give a crap about his agent's mental well-being and Hawkins is the ever-reluctant agent, suffering mixed feelings about ratting out his former friends, who willfully compromises his investigation to rescue the girl he stupidly became enamored with. Seriously, does the FBI recruit any agents that aren't immature frat boys with perpetual erections?
Then there's Michael Madsen, who's become a staple in these direct-to-DVD productions. As far as I can tell, with each successive release, Madsen becomes more and more bored. I'm not even sure he was completely sober during filming. Still, the guy retains that intangible cool, no matter whose checks he cashes, and in so far as he pissed me off enough for me to want the good guy to bludgeon him with a tire iron, he succeeded in his performance as the heavy. Too bad he goes out like a punk.
Derivative as it may be, I will grant Crash and Burn this: it's got some great cars. The rides Hawkins and his pals boost are across-the-board sweet, highlighted by a funky muscle car prototype that the guys somehow manage to sneak out of a museum (you have to see that one).
The DVD presentation is slim. Video is a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (the cars look great) and the 2.0 stereo mix does what it has to do, pushing the peppy score and floating a punchy LFE mix. Extras are AWOL.
If you're hard up for another undercover agent + cars formula, Crash and Burn may barely do the trick, but it's nothing special.
Off to the Jiffy Lube with you.
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