Jason Statham cranks up the body count in an enjoyably ludicrous comedy thriller that is best described as a cross between “Speed” and 50s film noir “D.O.A.”

Statham plays the brilliantly named Chev Chelios, an LA hit man who has recently hung up his gun to start a new life with his beautiful, if slightly dim, girlfriend Eve (Smart).

Sadly for Chev, however, his bosses aren’t too keen on this career U-turn and he wakes up one morning to discover that he has been “poisoned with some bad ass synthetic Chinese shit” that will kill him unless he keeps his heart rate above a certain level until he can track down the antidote.

Writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s heart-stopping – see what we’ve done there? – debut is easily the best action film of last year.

Making the most of their TV commercial background, the pair blend furiously fast-paced MTV-style editing with computer game action scenes and moments of quirky visual invention (check out Chev’s rear view mirrors while he talks on the phone).

The furiously fast-paced plot throws Statham into a never-ending stream of high adrenaline – literally – sequences that see him snorting cocaine off a bathroom floor, having sex in the middle of a Chinatown market, and speeding around LA in a hospital gown with a permanent erection.

But it’s the tongue-in-cheek script that really raises pulses, with more laugh-out-loud moments than most of the summer’s other “comedies” put together.

Charging around a hospital looking for epinephrine to boot his heart rate Chev forgets the proper medical name and says to a nurse in his cockney accent: “I’m looking for something beginning with E”, to which she replies sarcastically, “England?”.

Price when reviewed:

Sure, the plot’s bonkers, the language is fairly coarse, and the characterisation is as thin as half the models Statham has probably banged since he split with Kelly Brook.

But his cheesy deadpan humour and powerful athleticism make Chev Chelios the summer’s most memorable action hero to date.

Rating: 18
Staring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam
Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Extras: None

Sections TV