01/10/2006. Contributed by Frank Ochieng
So folks, posits Frank, ready for another high-voltage convoluted crime drama that overdoses on its adrenaline rush faster than a junkie at a pharmaceutical convention? Well, co-writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor thinks so in the monotonously mindless but colourful caper Crank. Balding British badass action star Jason Statham is at it again doing what he does best-kicking butts and aimlessly taking names.
Crank (2006) Lions Gate Films
One cannot blame Statham for being consistent in his ritualistic recklessness.
After all, can you blame a slow-footed turtle for not winning a marathon? In other words, Statham is not expected to show considerable range in what he does on the big screen-his cinematic salvation is busting heads and creating showy carnage for the masses that consider this testosterone-driven tough guy a heroic hellraiser. Sure, Crank is another throwaway thriller where bombastic blasts, babes, and bad guys fill the air with shameless pomposity. But you certainly cannot deny the intentional gross-out impishness of its corrosive, cartoonish convictions.
Aptly, Crank will be compared to another stimulating actioner in the form of the immensely popular 90's vehicle Speed where the common denominator in this movie is clear-the faster, the better. The collaborating Neveldine and Taylor create a ferociously stylish joyride where these hostile combatants gleefully tangle with the ugly playfulness of moody alligators chewing on innocent bunny rabbits like they were marshmallows.
The pacing is roguishly frantic and the cockeyed cranking of blown body parts, carnal consumption and errant transportation is served with excessive idiotic delight. Crank is banally boisterous, exaggerated and proud of its cracked cranium of chaos. Those that have experienced Statham's big screen bravura in the past can revel in the familiarized frolic that he has demonstrated in the past with previous pumped-up potboilers such as the aforementioned Speed, Collateral, The Transporter, Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Enthusiastically, Crank delivers the brain-dead destruction and hormonal teenaged boys will actively appreciate the action-packed dumbness to the point of fantasizing about the movie's fatalistic surge of trigger-happy turmoil. Neveldine and Taylor aren't very original in their drive for distinction in the way they spearhead their exploitative, numbing needle-inserting narrative. In fact, ripping off frenzied filmmakers from Quentin Tarantino to Guy Ritchie is probably a rare honour for the former TV advertising pair. But there's no pretence behind the moviemakers' intent about Crank-they want to pound its clenched audience with the jolting junk that strangely is filling in its sneering, rambunctious spirit.
Los Angeles-based hitman Chev Chelios (Statham) is living on borrowed time. Chev's "detractors" found a sinister way to inject a poisonous concoction into his body's system. This was in retaliation for a Chinese mobster that Chev rubbed out in one of his many missions. Feeling understandably nauseous, Chev consults with his concerned physician (Dwight Yoakam) who confirms that the professional killer has been inflicted with the dreadful "Beijing Cocktail" virus. Upon his doctor's advice, he has to keep extremely active in order for his heart to keep pumping properly otherwise the virus will stop him in his tracks like a defective alarm clock. "You stop, you die" is the stern warning from the medicine man.
And so Chev takes this sentiment to heart-both literally and figuratively. Thus, this allows the filmmakers to kick everything into appetizing overdrive while giving the movie's nihilistic excuse to have our wired worrywart participate in devilishly manufactured stunts that contribute to the mischievous sensationalism at hand. The obviousness of Chev's orders is plain and simple-he needs to make the weary world his antagonistic playground in order to survive. Chev wants to live long enough to punish the souls who put him in this bizarre medical predicament. But first, being on the constant move requires Chev to engage in all sorts of restless activities en route to this realization.
Whatever it takes to turn up the notch higher than before, Crank never misses an opportunity to wallow in its heavy-handed hedonistic sequences guaranteed to get a notable rise. Whether having Chev ride a confiscated motorcycle in a hospital gown (with his "business" hanging out) or partaking in an aggressive public sexual rendezvous with his dim-witted girlfriend (Amy Smart, "Just Friends") in the busy Chinese marketplace, Neveldine and Taylor confidently stick to the clichéd outrageousness. As a legitimate calling card for their perverse pleasure of doom and glory, the fury is amplified to elevate the spicy mayhem. Naturally, there are other disturbing revelations that border on the surreal and supercilious.
Watch Chev seek out his drug-induced fixes through desperate measures that include crashing through glass windows to steal drug paraphernalia. How about when he's snorting cocaine and other stimulates to maintain a life-saving buzz? Let's not forget having him witnessing arbitrary mutilations, combating foes in a helicopter overlooking a cynical city thousands of feet below, destroying property at random, etc. This sort of animated injection can go either way-being drowsy or deliriously peppered up by Statham's/Chev's accelerated tendencies manage to stimulate the imagination more often than not.
As tiring, far-fetched and implausible as Crank is in its broad and bone-headed carousing, it also happens to be an ultimate quick-fisted guilty pleasure that works as an obnoxious, throbbing thrill-ride for the bloodthirsty admirers that whine and dine on its rollicking ribaldry. Bona petite, gang!
© Frank Ochieng 2006