Friday, September 22, 2006

Crank

CRANK (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 2006)

CRANK hit man Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is injected with a synthetic Chinese drug that will kill him in an hour unless he can keep his adrenaline pumping at a high level. Faced with limited time to get revenge and reveal his true occupation to his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart), Chev tears through the city at a breakneck speed by car, motorcycle, and foot.

CRANK works overtime to be a disreputable bit of pulp fiction, and for the first half or so it’s like inhaling the cinematic equivalent of the film’s title. Statham’s anti-hero will do anything to keep his heart pounding, be it doing cocaine off a grimy floor, chugging Red Bulls, snorting one nasal inhaler after another, jabbing himself with multiple doses of epinephrine, burning his hand in a waffle iron, or engaging in vigorous public sex in front of a busload of Japanese tourists. It’s the stuff of nightmares for parental media watch groups, especially because CRANK is playing it for humor.

This devil may care attitude makes CRANK feel like an adrenaline rush, but after an energy burn comes the crash. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s direction is similarly aggressive. Using all manner of attention-grabbing techniques like Tony Scott, they shoot Statham through a microwave oven door, slap words onto the image to emphasize points, and, in a first, use Google Earth a few times as a transition. There’s a nice section where Statham drives his car through a mall, but the only way we know at first is by looking at the background in the tightly composed close-up.

CRANK is a lot of fun for awhile, but this boisterous, violent take on D.O.A. can’t sustain the manic energy over 87 minutes.

Grade: C

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