I have to make one thing clear right from the start: Crank is not a film for the faint of heart, of for the easily offended, or for people who like plot with their movies. If, however, you’re a moviegoer looking for a good excuse to watch the inimitable Jason Statham rampage through the streets of Los Angeles, this is the flick for you.
LA hit man Chev Chelios (Statham) wakes up at the beginning of the movie only to discover that he has been poisoned in his sleep with a drug known as the ‘Beijing Cocktail,’ which inhibits the production of adrenaline in the body, or some such thing, leading to an unpreventable death. His doctor Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) tells him that the only way Chelios will stay alive long enough to take revenge on his poisoner, an Asian thug named Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), and assure the safety of his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart), is too keep moving and keep the levels of adrenaline in his body high. Accordingly, the movie moves with a frenetic pace as Chelios rages through Los Angeles looking for Verona and ways to stay alive, leading him to various ingenious (and often self-abusive) methods of keeping his adrenaline high enough to keep him alive.
Despite the unpromising premise, the film succeeds quite well as a piece of sheer entertainment, somewhat in part due to smart direction from Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, but mostly because of the on-screen charisma of the animalistic alpha-male performance of Statham. Without him, Crank would be just another dumb action movie; with him, the film revels in all its B-movie glory and rides it for all its worth. Dwight Yoakam as Doc Miles is good enough; Amy Smart as Eve, Chelios’s girlfriend, is good and has a few very funny moments of her own; Jose Pablo Cantillo’s Verona is satisfyingly dislikeable; and even the minor actors often being humor and flavor to their roles; but throughout the stage clearly belongs to Statham, who makes many otherwise flinch-worthy scenes thoroughly watchable.
The fact that Crank is far more entertaining than it justly deserves to be does not, however, change the fact that it is still undeniably a B-movie, and in this regard its only defense is that it at least makes no attempt otherwise. If you’re feeling cynical and want to see something with a lot of action, or if you’re just looking for some mindless entertainment, Crank is for you; but if you want something focusing on plot and story, stay far, far away from this one.
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