CRAZED sports an incredible, heavily stylized poster that promises everything you could want in an action exploitation flick: explosive car chases, chicks in bikinis, literal torrents of blood, and a badass staring down the barrel of an impossibly large Margnum revolver.  But as any exploitation connoisseur is aware, poster art is deceitful above all things, and rarely does the film on the other side of the promotional art live up to its promise.

Made on a budget of brotherly love, CRAZED is written and directed by Kevin and Michael McCarthy.  It aspires to be a live action comic that takes more than a few cues from SIN CITY while attempting to pepper the results with the fast-paced, frenetic vibe of CRANKEDCRAZED was originally titled FURY: THE TALE OF RONAN PIERCE, and it’s pretty obvious they were hoping to draw comparisons by renaming it to something that could be mistaken for a Jason Stratham film in the dark.

Anyway, Ronan Pierce (Michael McCarthy) is an ex-special forces action man who once fought alongside partner Damien, whom he shot in the eye after a particularly nasty dispute over Damien’s general treatment of women.  Ronan thinks he’s dead, but years later, Damien kidnaps his wife and the game is on.  Ronan tracks down his ex-partner and doesn’t let anyone get in his way.

The film wants to be billed as a comic book come to life, but it’s sorely lacking the visual expertise necessary to sell it as such.  The quarter-baked special effects consist of digital gunshots and computer generated bullet wounds that make you yearn (and yearn hard) for the old squib-loaded days of yore.  However, I did sort of like whatever they did to create the cityscapes.  Though they’re clearly artificial, I appreciate the attempt to open up the scope of a film obviously bereft of the luxury of establishing helicopter shots.

The acting package is a veritable ham and cheese sandwich of dudes scowling, acting tough, and trying to be cool.  There’s so much faux-testosterone leaking out of this flick that you’ll probably suffer from male pattern baldness somewhere around the halfway mark.  The dialogue is “gritty”, which really means the characters constantly exercise their potty mouths like they just learned how to say “fuck” for the first time.  It’s unimpressive.

Lording over the tough guy performance is Michael McCarthy himself, who spends the entire film growling in a contrived Christian Bale-esque voice that quickly ventures beyond grating into realms of cringeworthiness.  He lacks the charisma needed to carry the role, and his insistence on forcibly snarling every line is a major detriment to the film and an affront to the audience’s sensibilities.

Slasher fans will be pleased to spot a cameo by Kane Hodder, who apparently took a break from signing autographs at horror conventions to make an appearance as an unpleasant strip club owner.  The rest of the cast is populated by evil men who enjoy tormenting hapless damsels.  CRAZED has a definite misogynist bent, as the female cast members spend lots of the runtime stripping, locked in cages, or being beaten and yelled at.

A short note after the credits make the audience aware that Wade Gallagher – who played antagonist Damien – has since died in real life after a battle with esophageal cancer.  He was easily the brightest spot in the acting department here, as he not only looked and sounded the part with his thick Bostonian accent, but he had some genuine presence.  I’m not just giving praise because he’s no longer with us – it really is a shame we didn’t get to see this guy elsewhere.

I’ll admit the film does have some energy to it.  There’s lots of variety in the goings on, with very little downtown, or time spent in one location.  The large cast means there’s a constant stream of fresh faces to look at, but the film’s refusal to focus on one subplot results in a schizophrenic story.  This would be forgivable if there was at least one character and performance that the audience could latch onto and sympathise with, but there’s not enough time spent on the things that matter.  CRAZED makes lots of noise but doesn’t have much to say, thus it ends up feeling cheap and empty.

The action is all set to a decidedly weak dubstep soundtrack which already seems anachronistic.  Everything here feels past its use by date, and not in a nostalgic way.  This is the kind of stuff that you find gathering dust at the back of the convenience store, like cheap, melted candy bars and stale potato chips.  It’s completely forgettable, despite having an undeniable, but misdirected energy.

CRAZED is currently available on digital and will be available on DVD 11/8

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