Crank (2006) – 3/5 Stars


“Crank” is a high-octane concept movie that busts out of the gate and never stops. Unlike most adrenaline-junkie action films, however, “Crank” justifies its juiced-up rip-roaring wackiness because the movie is actually about someone who needs to keep his adrenaline up in order to live. Not many other “action porn” movies can say they have such a luxury — or excuse. “Crank” does fly off the handle a bit under Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s surreal and frenzied direction, but it’s a pretty entertaining 90-minute joy ride.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is a hit-man who wakes up to find an angry rival has injected him with “synthetic Chinese ****” that will kill him over the course of time. In his mad pursuit of vengeance, he discovers that keeping his adrenaline up is the only way to stay alive. Good thing, because otherwise there’d be no reason for the drug use, excessive violence or public fornication in this movie. Without that, you’re looking at maybe the opening five minutes and that’s it.

Safe to say, this is a guy’s movie. If you’re a woman, you should probably avoid it. All the women are objects in this movie save Amy Smart as Chev’s girlfriend and even she’s supposed to be comically ignorant. The only idea/thought she contributes to this movie is to perform vehicular fellatio on her boyfriend during a high-speed chase.

Neveldine and Taylor do a great job creating the sense of an adrenaline rush in their film. It’s not merely all the violent content and chases that make it exciting, but the speed of the takes and the variety of angles and techniques. The editing is fantastic. Early on in “Crank,” when the film is at its best and really milking its breakneck premise, there’s a scene where Chev busts into a gas station mini-mart and stocks up on energy powder and drinks. There’s footage that follows him around handy-cam style and then there’s mock security cam footage of it too. Cut together it not only looks good but gets across that frenetic style they’re going for. There’s a lot of interesting divided screen work here too.

All is great in “Crank” until the second act overdose. After one notable scene in Chinatown between Chev and his girlfriend, everything is pretty much out of control. Everyone wants to kill everyone and Chev has run all over the place by this point. The audience is pretty much out of breath and the Chinatown scene is the film’s not-too-literal climax of Neveldine and Taylor’s attempt to blend action and hilarity.

The mark of a testosterone and adrenaline-driven film is always the amount of unnecessary nipples and exposed breasts. None of them are necessary in this film and there’s a decent number. But that’s entertainment, just in liquid form inside a tall aluminum can that says “Friggin’ Awesome” on the label. The lengths this film will go to make you think “awesome” or laugh at the outrageousness are great. “Crank” is a big bucket of greasy man-ness and you indulge until you’ve hit the breaking point.

3/5 Stars

Crank (2006)
Written and Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart


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