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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Movie Review: Crank 2: High Voltage

Hey all,

You ever go to a movie so wanting to like it, then just be crushed when it isn't what you wanted? That was me and Crank 2 today. It's a well known fact that I love over the top action movies. Just pure fun and excitement, not trapped by the needs of a strong story or character development. It's just a movie where you can go an have a good time. These are the things I loved in films like Shoot'em Up, The first two Transporter films, and all the like. I was raised on these kinds of films, you know, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal. Either you like the genre or you don't. The first Crank was the closest thing to about as perfect a straight out action flick could be.

It made no pretense to story or anything, just Boom. You're poisoned, you're gonna die in an hour unless you keep your adrenalin up, Boom go kill some shit. That is exactly what I wanted. It finds its own little world and let's you cut lose.

Crank 2 kind of fails...epically. The premise is pretty much the same. At the end of Crank 1, our hero Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) falls out of a helicopter in a final battle with the man who poisoned him. He kills him but crashes into a car on the ground below, bouncing to the asphalt. The film picks up right from there with Chelios being literally shoveled off the sidewalk and wheeled into a hospital. His heart is removed and replaced with a fake one that needs to be constantly stimulated with electricity. Regaining consciousness, he is determined to find the guy who stole his heart, and the action resumes, with Chelious getting into fights and gun battles, constantly looking for his next fix of electricity just to keep him alive.

He runs into his old girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) working as a stripper on the trail of the man who has his heart. He also meets Venus, the twin brother of Kaylos (Ephren Ramirez) who was killed in the first film. All the while his friend, Dr. Miles (Dwight Yoakam) is preparing for Chev to return with his heart to replace it for him.

The action stays pretty much over the top throughout the film, from gun fights in strip clubs where silicone oozes from bullet riddled breasts to a public sex scene at racetrack similar to the firs film. It doesn't lack for action or pacing, it never stops. The story and plot are non-existent and character development isn't what the point of this movie is about. That being said there are several sequences in the film that felt out of place. Especially the Maury Povich style sequence where you get a look at a young Chev Chelios in a weird conversation with his mother. It was like they were trying to add depth to the characters, but it was so out of place it was dis jarring. There is another fight scene when Chev finally catches up to the guy who has his heart at an electrical transformer station and the fight changes to some kind of Godzilla parody. Giant rubber faced versions of Statham and his opponent fighting amongst a miniature set like the old films. It was weird and didn't make sense.

The first film was over the top and impossible, but it stayed with the boundaries that it established, giving it a kind of reasonably and structure. Crank 2 would establish a structure, then blow it away. I never felt like the movie established itself. I am not asking for exposition or some Oscar worthy plotting, just establish some kind of realism, even if it is an absurd one. I think the fact that Crank 1 had done that, the fact that they tried to break any kind of structure in 2 was
Jason Statham continues to perpetuate his tough guy action hero role and is great at dealing with the absurdity and chaos of these types of films, a combination of humor and violence that makes him the go to guy for actions films for this generation. Amy Smart knows her roles and expectations. She knows what brings her to the game and isn't afraid to add some sex appeal or show the goods when its called for. I did like that they amped her toughness in the sequel and she definitely added some humor in the movie, especially with her scenes with the owner of the strip club she worked at (Corey Haim).

You can look for a veritable Easter basket of cameos, from David Carridine as an ancient Triad boss, Lauren Holly (from Dumb and Dumber)as a sexed crazed psychiatrist, and Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell as a young Chev Chelios' mother.

I can't recommend Crank 2: High Voltage. Not really anyway. I couldn't get past my disappointments in establishing a cohesive tone to the movie. It was like a sugar soaked diuretic. Super fast and sweet, but no staying power. It never felt like it needed to create an environment that stayed consistent. It would wax and wane from frenetic and impossible to trying to clutch at a rapidly disintegrating reality. It just didn't find the same balance the first film did and never really got me to by into the vision they wanted me to believe in. I say wait for Star Trek this weekend guys, it looks to have a little more staying power.

Thanks for reading!

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