“Crank 2: High Voltage” is what you watch when you wish Rambo was more badass. It’s what you watch when you have a craving for action that even Arnold can’t fill. It’s for when you need a bit of the old ultra-violence to go with your spot of tea. To put it simply, watching this movie is like watching the end of Rome: its decadence and hedonism are so extreme, that it manages parody itself as it’s happening. It’s self-indulgence for self-indulgence’s sake, and I loved it.
It sounds clichƒ© and let me assure you it is. In the first film, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is a hitman, who is poisoned so that he needs adrenaline to keep him going. He ends up falling out of a helicopter, and doing his best bouncy ball impression when he hits the ground. Apparently, he survives. His body is stolen by a gang and is being harvested for organs when he breaks loose, with a shiny new plastic heart instead of his beating red one. To stay alive, he needs to constantly hit himself with electrical jolts or other convenient deus ex machinas to keep himself going. Like I said clichƒ©.
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart
Running time: 96 minutes
Now I’m not going to ignore this films obvious lack of almost everything normally valuable in movies, like acting or plot. From a traditional standpoint, this might be the worst movie ever made. But who cares about those trivial things, when you can instead just have three times the sex and action instead. This film knows what it’s trying to do, and it does it well. The acting might not be top notch, but the characters certainly have personality. Chev is what James Bond would be like if he was balding, and replaced wit and subtly with the ability to kick ass even after major heart surgery. Doesn’t seem like a fair trade until you realize that most problems can be solved with a little elbow grease and a flurry of kicks.
Returning back from the first film is Chev’s best friend and personal doctor, aptly known only as Doc Miles. Doc is a cross between Dr. West from the Re-Animator and a pimp and plays the role of “Q” for Chev. Other various characters include a psychopathic villain who spends most of the movie laughing like a hyena; his sidekick who has tourette syndrome; his girlfriend has become an exhibitionist; and an Asian whore who loves Chev and can’t speak English.
The humor is crude and prevalent, ranging from its 70s style explanatory titles to shotgun sodomy. The sex scene about half way through the movie might outright be the funniest thing I have seen in several years. It’s in your face and it wouldn’t have it any other way. As you may have guessed, subtlety isn’t something this movie even attempts. To go with the crude humor is explosive action. That isn’t a buzzword; a lot of the action in this movie is literally explosive. In one of the most creative scenes in the movie, an entire fight is done in costumes and set up like an old Godzilla film, complete with a destructible foam set.
Despite its gruff and extreme exterior, there are some things that aren’t about vengeance and ass-kickery. There is a lot of allusion to video games and in fact both this and the first movie have more in common with video games than actual movies. Watching Chev steal a car, beat up cops and require power ups to get things done seems more like “Grand Theft Auto 4” rather than “Saving Private Ryan.” He falls out of a helicopter in the first one, only to come back at full health and continue his mission. If that isn’t the concept of “respawning” put into a movie, then I don’t know what is. In a hallucination, and possible flashback, Chev sees himself as a kid, on a “Maury” like talk show, discussing how he spends all his days playing video games and committing crimes. It might actually show them in a negative light, but it’s nice to see video games influencing the big screen rather than just being poor translations and quick brand cash grabs.
Call it shallow. Call it pointless. Call it mindless. But also call it inventive and fun. Most movies never dare tread where on ground that “Crank 2” plows through. The presentation is amazing, with its desaturated colors and fast-paced cuts that are still watchable. As a last note, the soundtrack for this is as unique as the movie. It’s made by musical chameleon and rock star Mike Patton, and fits the movie perfectly. So don’t go see “Crank 2: High Voltage” if you are a stick in the mud; under 18; a fan of quiet foreign films about love; or wish that Commando had a more cohesive plot. Otherwise, enjoy your 96 minutes of pure action and extravagance, try not to take it too seriously and wait patiently for “Crank 3” like I am.