MovieBob calls him Jason “Will Badass For Food” Statham. I can’t think of a more accurate moniker. Most of his efforts feature him beating up or shooting at mooks for some nefarious mastermind, but occasionally he’ll be pulled into Revolver territory and try something more cerebral. Crank: High Voltage isn’t cerebral in the slightest. You don’t just check your brain at the door; if you try to think too hard about it, the movie will grab your brain and drop-kick it out of the room, and you’re not going to mind a bit because you’ll be laughing too hard. It stars Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Corey Haim, Bai Ling, Clifton Collins Jr. and Dwight Yoakam.
Both Crank 2: High Voltage and the original Crank have some things in common with Shoot ‘Em Up, in that they’re more homages to the sort of over-the-top running gunfights you’ll see in more serious action movie affairs such as Smokin’ Aces or even The Matrix. They skirt the realm of parody without indulging in the gross-out silliness or shameless pandering of, say, Meet the Spartans. While Shoot ‘Em Up does this with a slight smirk and a knowing wink, the Crank films are to action films what Jackass is to stunt sports such as skateboarding – completely over the top, intentionally vulgar, and laughing the entire time.
Jason Statham is Chev Chelios, who at the end of Crank was dropped from a helicopter high above the city to an almost certain death, complete with a heartfelt final message phoned into his girlfriend (Amy Smart). Chev’s heart is far too badass to be stopped by a mere fall from a few dozen stories, and keeps right on pumping, keeping Chev alive. Chev is scooped up by gangsters who want to harvest that indestructible heart – and other organs, wink wink – for their aging boss. They get the heart out and replace it with a battery-operated artificial one to keep him alive long enough to get the rest of his goods. At the mention of removing his bait and tackle, however, Chev begins kicking ass and taking names, breaking the battery pack for his heart in the process. He needs to keep charging himself up with electricity to stay alive long enough to get his real heart back.
This is just the first five or so minutes of the film, by the way.
The pace, as you might have guessed, is very fast and not terribly forgiving. If you miss something happening, you’re not likely to get much of a recap. Like a “Loony Tunes” cartoon geared towards grown-ups, it’s absolutely madcap from start to finish, making no apologies and taking no prisoners. The fourth wall is pounded on more than once, from Amy Smart taking a jab at fans to the surreal monster sequence towards the end of the film. The entire premise for both Crank flicks is pretty much “We’re doing this because it’s cool.” It’s as if Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were competing to see just how many lines they could cross in an hour and a half.
By now you’ve probably determined if this is your kind of movie or not. It’s certainly not for everyone. If you have a problem with gratuitous violence, shameless nudity, or long strings of profanity, you won’t go anywhere near either of these flicks. You’re also not going to find deep social commentary or philosophical meaning in them, so look elsewhere for that. What you get with Crank 2: High Voltage is countless moments of badass action, quite a few laughs, and in this reviewer’s humble opinion, a damn good time.
Josh Loomis can’t always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it’s unclear if this week’s film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain… IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.