Saturday, January 20, 2007

Crank: A Review

One of a handful of action movies that came and went fairly fast in 2006 (THE MARINE, RUNNING SCARED, et cetera), CRANK stood out from the crowd due to its star, Jason Statham. While Statham's not always box office gold (REVOLVER, CHAOS), he's got a loyal following (of which I count myself a member) and undeniable charisma. I consider him one of the best British exports of "tough guy" leading men in recent years along with Clive Owen and Daniel Craig. (I thought for a while that Ewan McGregor was going to be in this group for a while but he's wussing out).

Crank Poster As Chev Chelios, Statham awakes at the out start of the film to learn that he's been poisoned and has one hour to live. Let's not dwell on the fact that he was unconscious when he was poisoned and it's unknown how long he's been out, calling the one hour timeline into question. Unlike D.O.A. (the original or the remake), Chev knows exactly who has set the countdown clock on his life (and even knows some details of the junk running through his veins). It was that scoundrel Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo)! Luckily, Chev doesn't spend his final moments dwelling on the past and assessing his downfall. Rather, he wants to take Cantillo with him for company in the pit of hell.

Chev makes his way to the elusive Cantillo, cutting a swath of destruction across Los Angeles. While he tries cocaine, Red Bull, and "trucker uppers," Chev learns that only epinephrine might keep his heart from seizing up. Along the way the audience learns more about Chev’s life as a professional hit man, his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart), and his plan to reform. We're also treated to some stylistic flourishes and self-reflexive shenanigans from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor that recall those of the French New Wave. For example, when Chev asks if he’s got the word "cunt" written across his forehead it's superimposed just there.

More than the Nouvelle Vague, CRANK often feels like Neveldine and Taylor took a lot of crib notes from other Stratham vehicles such as Guy Ritchie's SNATH and other methamphetamine-inspired titles such as Jonas Ã…kerlund's SPUN. Despite the name, meth only makes a brief cameo appearance in the film unlike the video game "Robotron" which shows up numerous times. This poor title choice may have added to the movie's brief theatrical run. It might have been better received had it been dubbed "HANDSOME ROB: THE LATER DAYS" or "THE TRANSPORTER 3". I'm just glad that it was far more entertaining than the other D.O.A.-inspired film of 2006, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3.

Short on substance and big on action, CRANK is a great way to to wile away an afternoon. A very enjoyable little romp and a must-see for Statham fans.

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