April 22, 2009

Movie Review: Crank - High Voltage

crank22_largeIn 2006 action star Jason Statham followed up the success of Transporter 2 with a film that many figured would be along the same lines, including me. How wrong did we turn out to be? he film was called Crank and it was one of, if not the, most insane releases of the year. It was an wildly over the top action movie, a cartoon come to life and then dosed with Crack. It was not another Transporter, it was its own beast. It was the sort of movie that either got it or you didn't, just be sure to check your brain at the door. Unsurprisingly, the edgy film was not a big box office hit, making this a welcome, if completely surprising sequel. It is also one of the wildest films to hit screens thus far in 2009.

crank217In addition to the financial reasons for this being made, there is another fact making this an unlikely reality. It has a little something to do with the way the first film began: "My name is Chev Chelios, and today is the day I die." You have to wonder, if he did indeed die, and we are led to believe he did, how could they make a sequel? Yes, death would certainly put a crimp in the crank of any potential sequel. Creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor came up with an ingenious way of handling it by telling you right on the poster: "He was dead...But he got better." Nice, simple, to the point, and does not waste any time with exposition in the film.

Crank ended with Chev (Statham) taking a dive from a helicopter without a parachute. This is where High Voltage picks up. Chev ultimately lands face first in the middle of an intersection. Almost immediately upon landing, a van pulls up, some guys jump out, scrape him off the pavement with a snow shovel and speed away. The plot, what little there is, is underway.

Now, there is not much of a plot to this movie, just enough to keep it surging forward. The first film saw Chev injected with a poison that caused him to have to keep his adrenaline up, thus triggering that film's insanity. It seems that his ability to survive the poison has made his heart a wanted and desired commodity by a Chinese crime lord. To that end, the goons that scraped him off the pavement have removed his heart, replacing it with one of those temporary plastic hearts that is kept going by a battery on a belt. Can you guess what is coming?

Chev wakes up to find what these back alley doctors are doing, he then hops off the table, causes some mayhem on his way to the exit and is off to the races in search of his real heart. The problem is that his plastic heart battery is a little on the low side, meaning he needs to keep getting it juiced any way he can.

Crank: High Voltage is an absolute assault on the senses and good taste. There is no such thing as at taboo topic. The movie is filled with violence, nudity, profanity, and enough mind-numbing insanity to satiate to hardest of the hardcore adrenaline junkies. The one thing you cannot do when entering the theater, is keep your brain engaged. There is no need for it and it will more than likely end up splattered on the seat behind you.

As soon as Chev gets off the makeshift operating table, the action is non-stop. Chev is on a rampage, going through anyone and anything en route, to retrieving his heart. Along the way he makes use of all manner of power sources, from car cigarette lighters, to power transformers, to jumper cables, to little old ladies to keep his heart going. He steals cars, wrecks cars, breaks limbs, goes on a Godzilla-like rampage, and has sex in the middle of a horse track. Anything and everything goes.

This is the sort of movie that mainstream audiences do not get. It is weird, bizarre, and does not appear to contain any sort of brain, much less heart. That said, those who do get it, no matter who you are, will recognize the appeal if this sort of material. It almost defies explanation. Just thinking about all that went on gets me out of breath. Once it's over, you are just spat out into the darkness, exhausted, heart pounding, and utterly confused about what just happened.

Bottomline. If you are looking for a wild cinematic experience, this will definitely fill the bill. A video game brought to life, a cartoon in the flesh, Crank: High Voltage is the movie you have waiting for all year. You are unlikely to have a stranger experience all year.



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