Don't forget to take your Ritalin.
I know it's become terribly clichéd to describe a film's style as "MTV-esque," but I can't think of a more apt appraisal of Crank. Frenetically paced and filled with outlandish stunts, it feels more like a video game or an 87-minute music video than a feature film. In that sense, Crank succeeds precisely because it never pretends to be more than is: a fun little piece of popcorn cinema.
The plot is the highest of high-concept: Jason Statham plays Chev Chelios, a hitman injected with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops below a certain level. In order to stay alive long enough to track down the man responsible, he'll have to use all manner of methods to keep up his adrenaline. (It's Speed on speed, literally.)
Bent on revenge, Chelios rampages through the streets of Los Angeles in an effort to find the man responsible for his predicament. In between dispatching bad guys, he employs just about every stimulant available in order to keep himself properly jacked-up: Red Bull, epinephrine, cocaine and more. In one audacious scene, Chelios summons his girlfriend (Amy Smart) for help, and she dutifully complies by having sex with him in the middle of Chinatown. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
The insanity escalates right up until the final scene, in which Chelios battles his nemesis Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) while the two are in the midst of a free-fall from a helicopter. After the fight (and while still in mid-air), Chelios has the presences of mind to grab his cell phone and call his girlfriend. How touching.
Statham, who rose to prominence with equally stylized action flicks like The Transporter, is perfect for the role. Smart is also well-cast as his spacey yet well-meaning girlfriend.
The real star of the film, of course, is its bold and relentless style. Story is largely superfluous in a film like this; it's all about moving as rapidly as possible from one preposterous, eye-popping sequence to another. It doesn't come as a surprise that Crank writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor also served as the film's cameramen. It's their first feature film, and they used the opportunity to unleash every acrobatic shot and crazy camera angle they'd been hiding up their sleeves. There's nary a static shot in the film.
In many ways, Crank serves as a frightening harbinger of things to come. As more and more members of the ADD generation step behind the camera, expect the movie's approach to be replicated. Until then, enjoy the novelty.
What's on the Disc:
A few interesting innovations:
Crank'd Out Mode - The directors' commentary, behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interviews are all thrown together and displayed on a small picture-in-picture as the movie plays.
Family-Friendly Audio - Crank's DVD authors are not without a sense of humor. Parents who are worried about the film's naughty language can opt to watch the film sans expletives by activating this feature. Never mind the rampant violence, drug use or public fornication.
Check out Reelz.com's Crank page for clips from the movie.