Film Review - 17 Again
Brian Visits the 2009 FX International Convention

Film Review - Crank: High Voltage

CRANK 2 still

Me? I loathed 2006’s “Crank,” finding the orgy of violence, film school reject camerawork, and hyperactive editing obscenely obnoxious. I didn’t buy into the feature as pop art or as a supposed anti-establishment bonbon to savor with pierced-brow relish. Instead, I rejected its every move with increasing disgust. 2 ½ years later, and now there’s a sequel. A sequel! Yes, “Crank” turned a tiny profit and built a rabid cult following in the intervening years, and the faithful are being rewarded with another swirling round of brain-melting inanity, coated in tacky “style” and 8-bit sophistication. Yes, it’s supposed to be dreadful, but it turns out that “Crank: High Voltage” is genuinely insufferable.

Seconds after his helicopter free fall results in a belly flop on concrete, Chev (Jason Statham) is barely alive, scooped up by Asian gangsters who want to steal his heart. Replacing his ticker with a plastic, battery powered machine, Chev can only stay alive for a few moments at a time before he needs a charge. Escaping the clutches of evil and out to retrieve his thumper, Chev hits the dangerous streets of Los Angeles, crossing paths with many old faces (including Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, and Dwight Yokam) as he hunts down Poon Dong (David Carradine), the current owner of his resilient heart.

I suppose my trouble with the “Crank” films lies with directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who have this master plan of pandemonium for the series that I’m unable to process properly. Looking to make a live-action video game mixed with broad cartoon motions and hardcore action film conventions, the directors go straight to gonzo overkill in the name of fun. I just don’t see this alleged merriment.

There’s no satiric aim here, no comedic sleight of hand to help digest the noise these two gentlemen are infatuated with. Neveldine and Taylor are here to simply push buttons, scripting an adventure that eats taboo by the pound and expects the audience to beg for more. The guys mistake chaos for cleverness, using hyper-editing standards and clichéd skate-video cinematography to whip the nonsense into a stimulating whirlwind of provocative entertainment. I held some hope that “Crank: High Voltage” would go a little easier on the senses (been there, done that), but the filmmakers actually quest to surpass the original film, leading to unimaginable and frankly unprintable forays into slapstick comedy and deadly serious ultraviolence. Much like the first film, there’s more yawns than shocks with Neveldine and Taylor trying so furiously to be edgy.

Just how is anyone supposed to react to an anal violation performed with a shotgun, a scene where a Mexican gangster slowly cuts off his own nipples, or a moment where a stripper is shot in the chest, only to have the clear ooze of her breast implants pour out? Funny? Throw in weirdly mean-spirited Asian stereotypes (Carradine is in full buck teeth mode, while Chinese actress Bai Ling personally sets her homeland back about 50 years with her grotesquely exaggerated “Me love you long time” performance) and a fixation on genital mutilation, and “Crank: High Voltage” becomes depressing to watch. Not silly, depressing.

For flavor, the sequel offers a few weird cameos (Corey Haim, Geri Halliwell), lots of nudity, even more gunfire, a Godzilla-inspired battle between a towering Chev and his enemy (ya know, just because), and a final shot that literally extends a middle finger toward the paying audience. It’s a surreal pastiche of manufactured multiplex rebellion and frankly a predictable one, as the sequel is basically following in the same footsteps as the first picture, only with more emphasis on the sleaze.

The “Crank” pictures have their fans, and God bless ‘em, they eat this malarkey up with a huge smile. Good for them. However, when I watch these movies, I can’t help but feel cheated. Surely something so gleefully disgusting shouldn’t have to work this hard to make an impression.


D-



CRANK 2

Comments

Mike

"a final shot that literally extends a middle finger toward the paying audience."

That's what scares me. I'm actually looking forward to this, and the reviews are already praiseworthy (last I checked, it stands at 71% at RottenTomatoes). Listen, you're reviews are usually right on the money (I just don't buy into the hype of "Juno"), but when you praise some of the Disney's untalented trends (good luck facing some homophobic rants against the people who read your review of "High School Musical"), you start to lose credibility as a critic.

Debbie Lozaon

Mike...huh?

First of all, the 71% is from 17 reviews as this point. Let it get to 100, and then we'll talk Tomatometer.

So, if Orndorf likes, say, High School Musical 3 (66% - 122 reviews), people won't take him seriously?

You know who likes HSM3? Everyone. Perhaps internet schmucks will harass Orndorf for bravely calling Zac Efron a good actor (newsflash: he is), but losing credibility isn't an issue here. In fact, it seems Orndorf has his finger on the pulse recently with positive reviews for Taken, Paul Blart, and Monsters vs Aliens.

As for Crank 2, the first film stunk and there's no reason why the second one could do any better.

Chev F

gawd, this movie sucked. the head in the fish tank wuz the gayest thing ever.

Mike

Debbie?

Well, I never said he was off on films. I thought "Taken", "Paul Blart: Mall Cop", and "Monsters vs Aliens" were entertaining too.

Zac Efron is a good actor? I don't know about that. Maybe "17 Again" will prove me different if I plan on seeing it. Only just for the "Reno 911" guy and Leslie Mann.

Look, it's an opinion, that's all. There's no need to attack me.

William K. Niemann

Beware.

This is the most disgusting film I've ever seen, even rivaling 'Horror Planet'.

The photography stunk and the so called gags in the file were hatched by clearly demented minds.

I'd say that Jason Statham, who had built some very likeable characteristics in the Transporter films, may have ruined his career. Ebert is right on!

I walked out half way through this train wreck and demanded my money back and got it.

Blabla

Hey you idiots, you really don't know what trash cinema is. First one is some kind of trashy violent action, and sequel is 100% trash, so you just didn't get it. It's suppose to be dumb and over the top.

Christian

Crank = Effluent...

Crank 2 = Excreta...

But to aid the defence, both movies are designed to be a little tongue in cheek no!?

Mick

Selective misanthropes with a sense of humour like myself will get a hard on for this experience which is Crank 2. Orndoff, what’s a matter with you? Giving this a D-!

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