Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Spun (2003)
18Contains frequent hard drug use, strong sex and language

Essential for Mickey Rourke fans, annoying for everyone else, Spun is a hyperactive black comedy high on the grungy glamour of drugs.

The story is slight. Society drop-out Ross (Jason Schwartzman) sets off to score some speed, but his usual supplier (John Leguizamo) is empty. So airhead Nikki (Brittany Murphy) takes him to see her other half, The Cook (Rourke). Soon, Ross is running errands for the cowboy-hatted, hard-headed drug-generator.


Rourke is the one reason to see this film. Battered by his own years of substance abuse, he blends experience with screen presence to bring weight to this feather-light movie.

Everyone else is so obviously acting it's embarrassing. There's American Beauty's Mena Suvari self-consciously slumming it by displaying (oh no!) dirty teeth to the camera; Murphy offering a cutesy idiot routine which is just lazy for someone with her talent; Peter Stormare as a cop so larger-than-life he could have walked straight out of a Beastie Boys video.

This is unsurprising, given that first-time feature director Jonas Åkerlund's background is in making music videos. The whole thing feels like a promo for X-rated MTV, with a 'wacky' cartoon sequence, fastforwarded footage, and super quick cuts.


But style can't disguise a lack of substance. Every hardship feels painted on and nothing (Rourke apart) is remotely real. The characters are stereotypes, the gee-look-what-drugs-do effects soon become dull.

Åkerlund clearly knows how to handle a camera, but he can't yet tell a story. There's also an irritating hypocrisy to a movie that suggests substance abuse is squalid, yet makes its speed freak hero irresistible to women. Spun wants to damn drugs and enjoy them. Like an ex-addict reminiscing over their days of dependence, it's dead behind the eyes: hollowed out.

End Credits

Director: Jonas Åkerlund

Writer: Will De Los Santos, Creighton Vero

Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari

Genre: Comedy, Crime

Length: 101 minutes

Cinema: 28 November 2003

Country: USA

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