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Overall Rating
2.32

Awesome: 12%
Worth A Look: 12%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad48%
Total Crap: 28%

3 reviews, 7 user ratings


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Crank 2: High Voltage
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Not Quite An Amp Classic"
2 stars

Those of you who saw the demented cult favorite “Crank” (and if you didn’t, there is no real reason for you to break that streak) will recall that it followed the misadventures of a hit man who discovered that he had been injected with a deadly Chinese poison that would kill him quickly unless he managed to slow it down by jacking up his adrenaline levels up by any means necessary--as the film progressed, both he and the filmmakers had to indulge in increasingly outrageous behavior to keep things from shutting down for good. Although I had a certain amount of admiration for its cheerful willingness to indulge in the most lurid excess imaginable, I didn’t actually like the film as a while because its relentless attempts to continually top itself with each succeeding scene became frankly exhausting after a while--by the time it finally came to an end, I suspect that most viewers felt like a little kid suffering from history’s biggest sugar crash. Now we have “Crank: High Voltage,” a virtual remake of the first film that not only has to continually top itself with each successive scene but also has to top audience memories of the original. Once again, it goes to extraordinary lengths to pull that off--this is a film that is so hyperactive from start to finish that even a generally reliable ball of crazy like Bai Ling has to step things up a notch or two in order to keep pace with her surroundings--but once again, it begins to wear out its welcome, not to mention most of the audience, long before it reaches the half-hour mark. Put it this way--William Blake may have once stated “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom” but I’m guessing that if he ever had the opportunity to see the “Crank” films, he might have had second thoughts about that.

Of course, if you did see “Crank,” you may be wondering how there could be a sequel in the first place since it ended with its nominal anti-hero, resoundingly resilient hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) plunging through the air from a helicopter and landing smack dab in the middle of a city street (after bouncing off a car, of course). Well, it turns out that he somehow survived the fall after all (though the film is a bit coy on the details) and was absconded with to a makeshft operating room where his incredibly durable heart was removed by Chinese gangsters and replaced with an artificial one with only enough power to keep him alive for a couple of hours. Naturally, he escapes and goes off in search of his ticker, which is now residing in the chest of ancient gang leader Poon Dong (David Carradine in a performance so insane that when the film hits DVD, I hope they get Haskell Wexler to appear on the commentary track for his scenes), while constantly administering increasingly severe electrical jolts to himself by whatever mean necessary in order to keep the artificial heart going. This journey leads him into one bizarre misadventure after another that include strip club shootouts, porn star picket lines, heretofore unknown siblings of peripheral characters bumped off during the first movie and a tender reunion with girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) that begins with the aforementioned stripper-related gunplay and ends with the two of them recreating the original’s infamous Chinatown-based sex scene with one that takes place on a race track in the middle of a horse race. (Not only that, we get confirmation that at least one of the horses is a boy, if you know what I mean and I bet that you wish that you didn’t.)

It is possible, of course, to make an entertaining film that is nothing more than an increasingly insane string of over-the-top action sequences--titles such as Tom Tykwer’s “Run Lola Run,” Wayne Kramer’s “Running Scared” and much of the output of the tireless Luc Besson spring to mind--but to pull off such a thing requires both the ability come up with increasingly wild, exciting and/or outrageous bits of business and the ability to pull them off in a cinematically stylish manner. Unfortunately, the writing and directing team of Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor (who made the original “Crank” as well as the equally deranged thriller “Pathology”) once again display a complete inability to pull off either of them. Although there are a couple of amusing and creative bits of business here and there (I especially liked the bit where a fight scene inexplicably morphs into a full-on “Godzilla” homage), too many moments simply try too hard to shock jaded viewers with such grisly sights as nipple slicings, a shotgun being shoved where the sun most definitely doesn’t shine and cameo appearances from the likes of Corey Haim and Ginger Spice--towards the end, things get so ridiculous that the entire thing degenerates into an annoying self-parody of something that didn’t exactly take itself seriously in the first place. Some of these bits might have worked if Neveldine/Taylor displayed any sense of a unique filmmaking style but they go about telling their story in the most ham-fisted manner possible by trying to convey excitement through whiplash editing and hyperkinetic camera moves instead of designing the scenes so that the tension and excitement develop naturally. It would appear that their great dream was to make a film that looked and felt exactly like a video game and to that extent, they have succeeded--unfortunately, it is one of those videogames where the actual gameplay is so balky that you just give up on it altogether after a few minutes.

The one element of “Crank: High Voltage” that consistently works throughout is the same one that helped save the original from complete disposability--the lead performance from Jason Statham. Face it, he has done much better work in the past, both as an action star in things like the “Transporter” films and as a more straightforward actor in the underrated “The Bank Job,” but he finds the right performance approach here that allows him to show a sly sense of humor regarding the nonsense surrounding him without going too far over the edge into outright camp--not the easiest thing in the world to do when you consider some of the situations that he finds himself in. You even get to see him clearly having fun on the set during the behind-the-scenes outtakes that run during the end credits. Alas, none of that footage involves the aforementioned race track sex scene--a pity, since that was the only part in the entire film where I really wanted to know how they did it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18075&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/18/09 08:35:59
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User Comments

9/24/09 mr.mike Much better than "Transporter 3" , and I liked that there was a lot of humor in it. 4 stars
4/27/09 Jack Sommersby Needless, moronic sequel to a breathtaking original. 1 stars
4/23/09 Eeon A great action movie. Fast pace, entertaining the whole way through. 5 stars
4/22/09 Mack Brilliant mix of video game violence, music video visuals, and Python-esque ridiculousness! 5 stars
4/22/09 blah blah brilliant film.reviewer is a thick cunt die 5 stars
4/21/09 matt incredibly stupid, incredibly fun 4 stars
4/20/09 james obrien a very good follow up 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  17-Apr-2009 (R)
  DVD: 08-Sep-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Apr-2009
  DVD: 08-Sep-2009




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