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Saturday
Apr182009

Crank: High Voltage

When it comes to modern action stars, nobody stands out quite like Jason Statham. In fact, I would argue that he is the only person in Hollywood today with the brooding charisma to pull off films like Crank: High Voltage, which makes it all the sadder that the film fails to live up to expectations. Statham is a great action star and a good actor when starring in the right movie (The Bank Job), but my God, this is bad.

The film picks up directly where Crank left off. Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) falls miles from the sky, lands on concrete and lives, only to have his heart taken out and replaced with an electronic one that needs regular jolts of electricity to keep working. So Chelios attempts to find his real heart while doing anything he can to keep his fake one ticking.

Never mind the fact that Chev's fall would have broken every bone in his body, given him irreparable brain damage, and made him a vegetable for the rest of his life, if he even managed to live. But this is Crank 2 baby. Logic need not apply. The movie is balls to the wall, but there's a huge disparity between this and others in the genre. Yes, the film is intentionally over the top and it knows it, but here's why it doesn't work. It's too self knowing.

The best over the top action flicks work because the characters aren't aware they're in a movie. For example, Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci played their parts seriously in Shoot 'Em Up and Owen delivered his lines deadpan, regardless of how stupid they were. It worked because it parodied the movies it was mimicking, which, in turn, parodied itself. Although the film was winking at the audience, the characters weren't and were fully unaware that they were in an action movie.

Yet Crank: High Voltage gets this completely wrong. It isn't parodying anything and tries too hard to be edgy instead of just letting it flow. The actors needed to play their parts straight, but instead they acted like they were in a live action cartoon.

Not all of the blame can go to the actors, however. In a sense, this is a live action cartoon. The film even resorts randomly (and stupidly) to a literal cartoon battle where the two actors are replaced by overgrown men in Halloween masks. I suspect that if you asked the filmmakers why they chose to do this, they would simply respond with a, "Why not?" The film had no structure narratively or stylistically.

The movie also attempts to be funny, with little success. This pretty much sums up the level of humor in the film. One character's name is Poon Dong. Right. And never mind the myriad of references to things like the Transporter flicks and the now infamous Wayne Brady skit from "Chappelle's Show." This movie isn't just unfunny, it's loathsomely shallow.

The final frame of the movie shows Chev Chelios walking directly to the camera until his face encompasses the screen, staring out at the audience, and flipping them the bird. It was as if the film was rubbing in my face the fact that I had just wasted precious time watching this drivel while simultaneously reminding me that it hardly even attempted to make it enjoyable to people above the age of 16. Being a fan of the first film, I was disappointed with this one and while it will certainly appeal to prepubescent high schoolers looking for stupid fun, I suspect people with taste will find a lot to hate about Crank: High Voltage.

Crank: High Voltage receives 1.5/5

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