a critiQal film review Crank (2006)

Plot: Chev Chelios (Statham) is about to die. Injected with a deadly toxin nicknamed "the Beijing cocktail", he has only an hour to live. The only way to prolong his life? Adrenaline. The faster his heart beats, the longer he lives. And he's got something to live for - he has to kill the man who poisoned him (Cantillo).

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  • ...a wildly inventive adrenaline rush you won't want to miss!

While I rarely check out what the critics are saying, I did happen to stop by Rotten Tomatoes recently and noticed that Crank was getting some rave reviews…and was stunned. From what I’d seen from the previews, this looked to be the movie for the MTV generation – a fast-paced, action-packed, music video. Full of gratuitous sex and loads and loads of violence, but without any real oomph behind it’s punch.

So, pleasantly surprised, I couldn’t wait to see Crank once it hit DVD. But, would those positive reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes be right, or was this Jason Statham’s descent back into the abyss that was The Transporter (2002)?

Jason Statham seems to be at his best playing characters who are a little off their rockers, so to speak. Whether he’s an odd boxing promoter (Snatch) or a cop from another world (The One), he powers his rather scrawny way through seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When it came to his biggest role, as a car driver in The Transporter (2002), it took him 2 tries to get what was – for him, at least – a rather down-to-earth kind of character.

His previous roles in The Transporter (2002) films actually help him in Crank, as those 2 films could almost be the history for his character Chev Chelios. This time around, however, there is no time for leisure, as he has been injected by the “Beijing cocktail”, a drug that slowly slows his heart down. The only way to prolong his death? Adrenaline.

Give a plot like that to some actors, and they will shrug and pass. Not so with Statham. Jason jumps into his role in Crank at full-speed and jerks the viewer along behind him. With his wild-eyed stare permeating the movie throughout, the viewer is almost able to taste the adrenaline pumping through him in each and every sequence.

The other characters in Crank are all secondary to Statham’s need for speed, including the villain, played by Jose Pablo Cantillo. While his stint on a DVD at the beginning of the film is enough to give Statham the push that he needs, the rest of his role is rather small, as the viewer only catches occasional glimpses of him until the final climactic sequence.

With a plot set-up like the one for Crank, the filmmakers have to set their sequences to play fast and furiously – and boy, do they! Each and every sequence is hurried and somewhat disjointed right from the start. With a first sequence showing the world through Statham’s eyes, the viewer is caught a bit off-guard. With the herky-jerky scenes that follow, the film keeps the viewer slightly off-guard and disoriented, making the viewer feel like they’ve got a little of that “Bejing cocktail” floating through their system as well.

Fast-paced and furious to the max, Crank strongly deserves it’s R rating, so keep the kiddies out of the room for this one. Just remember: the things that keep adrenaline up: sex, drugs, and violence. And all three are in abundance here. From a sex scene in the middle of a crowd to snorting cocaine, Chelios will do whatever it takes to makes his way across town to exact his revenge, no matter what he leaves in his wake.

With all this mayhem and destruction, however, comes a light of sunshine – this movie actually has a sense of humor! It’s a bit dry, and comes on at odd times (a car chase through a mall full of people leaves Chelios climbing out of his car while it’s traveling sideways up an escalator – while managing to maintain a telephone conversation with his doctor buddy), but it’s there, and really improves the film. It’s one of those rare films that is able to combine dry wit with intense action – and not have the finished product laced with too much cheese.

For action fans, this film is a must-see. It’s fast pace leaves the action movies you’re used to far in the dust, and it’s dry, sometimes cutting humor will make you laugh out loud. Wildly inventive, Crank is one adrenaline rush you won’t want to miss.

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