I, myself, have never been hooked on speed, but I know several people who have and from what I understand, “Spun” offers a very realistic portrayal of speed freaks, even if it is a bit cartoony at times. But then again, “cartoony” is a word that could best sum up the life of a tweaker.
What can I say? You’ve seen the trailer, so you know to expect a visual feast with music video director turned feature filmmaker Jonas Akerlund’s speed freak epic “Spun.” But if you haven’t seen the trailer, think Requiem for a Dream, but brighter and with a sense of humor. Akerlund’s visual style gets a little corny here and there, but not very often. For example, during a scene with two cranked out narcs rushing a dealer’s house, the action explodes into something that would best be described as the opening credits sequence of a cheesy 70s cop show. Thanks but no thanks. Other than these few goofy moments, Akerlund effectively barrages his audience with the sights and sounds best associated with the hellish lives of meth addicts. It’s so insane, your teeth may even fall out and your skin could turn yellow, now that’s one hell of an experience.
But upstaging, or rather complimenting Akerlund’s frenetic visual style is his amazing cast. It’s true that this film is chock-full of unsavory drug addicts who you wouldn’t want to give a squirt of piss for, but every single one of these actors portraying them are so entertaining to watch, that you won’t mind a bit spending this 90 minutes with them. First and foremost…FUCKIN’ MICKEY ROURKE! I never thought I’d say that in print, so here it goes again – FUCKIN’ MICKEY ROURKE! This may not be the most Earth shattering statement ever, but this is for sure Mickey’s best role. He plays the Cook, a hulking shitkicker with his own meth lab he runs out of a motel room. He supplies the schlep rock Ross (played by Jason Schwartzman) with speed as long as he, in turn, drives him and his stripper girlfriend (played by Brittany Murphy) around in his car whenever they need it. These drives include trips to the gas station for “ingredients,” visits to the porn store, beer runs and chauffeuring Nikki back and forth to the strip club for work. And the bulk of the film carries on this way, focusing on this bizarre friendship, clouded by rail after rail of crystal meth. It’s funny and disgusting all at the same time. But like I said, you can’t take your eyes off of this cast, no matter how covered they are with sores and blemishes. Rourke is the king and Jason Schwartzman, who I was never a big fan of, and Brittany Murphy, whose films I have never seen, are simply outstanding.
Rounding out the cast are John Leguizamo as Spider Mike, a dealer, and Patrick Fugit and Mena Suvari as speed freaks who hole themselves up in his house, awaiting their next drug feast. Also, there’s Peter Stormare and Alexis Arquette as a couple of cranked out cops, Deborah Harry as Ross’ lesbian neighbor with a great interest in martial arts and Eric Roberts as…well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. It’s pretty funny; I don’t want to spoil it. On top of that, there’re also plenty of cameos from folks like Rob Halford and Billy Corgan, so keep your eyes open.
“Spun” is an absolute spectacle, as well as further proof that music video directors can make good movies after all.