Crank (2006) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for strong pervasive violence, strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive drug content, and strong language
Running Time: 83 min.

Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Sanz, Efren Ramirez, Reno Wilson
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Screenplay: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Review published September 4. 2006

crankFrom the very first scene of the stupefyingly shallow, but highly energetic b-movie, Crank, suspension of disbelief is an absolute must -- I mean, what kind of hit man would actually leave video evidence of a murder at the scene of the crime, or give the intended victim a window of opportunity to exact revenge on him?  If you can get past this major plot contrivance, you will probably not have much trouble swallowing nearly every other that follows it and enjoy it as nothing more than a dumb, explosive action thriller for adults that prefer films without any lag in action or sensationalism.  The entire premise is built around the need for "speed", after all.

Although it might seem on the surface as a novel idea, the premise is very reminiscent of the classic 1950 movie, D.O.A. (remade in 1988), with its story of a man that is destined to die getting revenge on those that did the deadly deed before he expires. Jason Statham (Chaos, Revolver) stars as Chev Chelios, a hit man for hire who wakes up one day to find a message waiting for him from a local Los Angeles rival that he's been injected with a specialized Chinese poison that gives him maybe an hour left to live.  The only thing will slow the poison and keep Chelios alive is to make sure his heart is pumping at an accelerated, adrenaline-charged rate.  With no time to spare, he plans on getting revenge on those that are soon to kill him, but must do so without ever stopping the excitement for even a minute.

Crank is another film to come out of late that has a plot that would probably be right at home in a video game, and plays out just as close.   Say what you will about the lack of plausibility involved in the story, as well as the ridiculous physics, it delivers pretty much on every intended level in terms of sheer action, thrills, humor, violence, and titillation.  It isn't a great movie, or even a good one, really.  However, the tongue-in-cheek nature of it is enough to keep us from taking any of it very seriously, enjoying it as a highly illogical, no-holds-barred lark.  

I would probably only recommend Crank to those that regularly feast on ultraviolent, high-octane action films, as the film is surprisingly lean in any other direction.  It's frenetic, in your face, and pushes the envelope of good taste in an almost jubilant fashion; if you find it difficult to succumb to the superficial essence of it, you may leave the theater with a headache from all of the stylish editing, incessant noise and jumpy cinematography.

I should point out that Crank is occasionally graphic in its violence and sexuality, so this may be too much for easily-offended audiences, as well as those that normally think it's OK to take the kiddies to a violent action flick.  Most films of a similar nature turn me off by being hampered by their inability to do much more than be offensive, violent, and pushing the envelope of good taste; 2006's Running Scared completely repulsed me in this regard.  However, Crank kept most of my reservations at bay by being inventive and clever enough in its own limited fashion, with first-time feature film writer/directors Neveldine and Taylor, who cut their teeth making commercials, always keeping us fully aware that they know they're making a stupid action movie with wholly disposable characters and senseless situations.  It's not exactly Run Lola Run caliber, but you could do much worse than inject Crank into your DVD player whenever you need your next mindless action fix.

Qwipster's rating

©2006 Vince Leo