A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING (3 out of 5 Rating)!
I've found most Jason Statham action films to be passable at best, though I remain aware of his popularity and charisma as an action star even in mediocre film fare. With Crank, directors Neveldine and Taylor take the strengths of Statham, crank up the pace, and write a story that has but one goal: pure, distilled action. What we get is not exactly great film, but Crank is a balls out thrill ride of violence and gore that is as masculine as it comes and unapologetically stupid and sexist.
Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is a hitman who has just run out of luck and finds himself poisoned by a witless up-and-comer for the mob named Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo). Slowly dying by a supposedly Chinese toxin that slows his heart, Chev figures out that he can keep himself alive as long as he keeps moving and the adrenaline flowing. Aware of his inescapable demise but unwilling to capitulate, Chev decides to go out with a bang. He spends his remaining hours hunting down Verona and his cronies in a nearly ceaseless chase, culminating in a showdown with Verona and his mob boss Carlito (Carlos Sanz).
At a lean 87 minutes, Crank wastes almost no time in getting the action underway and have Statham beating the pulp out of someone. The script is designed to keep the film moving in perpetual high-speed and the editing wonderfully accentuates this hectic flow. Statham's Chev Chelios is a man on borrowed time and does everything from sniffing cocaine to drinking Red Bull in order the keep his blood up. Statham devours the role with his typical stoicism and no-nonsense attitude accompanied by some genuinely witty laughs. It's a formula that works perfectly for this kind of film and the audience will easily get caught up in Chev's plight. The action in Crank is loud and outrageous, but is fitting given the plot. At no time do the fights and chases pull us out of the ever-present reality of Chev's goal to get Verona before his poisoned body succumbs. Each scene acts as another entertaining step towards the final goal of revenge providing both gut-wrenching violence and sharp humor.
While Crank may win points for speed and adrenaline, the story is ridiculously silly and contrived. The cockeyed plot is meant to be discarded but it always feels just a bit too much. Without doubt this is a man's action film; every female, including Amy Smart as Chev's girlfriend Eve, serves only as gratification. Indeed, there is even one kooky scene where Chev and Eve have sex in the parking lot of a public bus station! While intentionally created to be brash and funny, these scenes also come across as invective and vulgar. As a curious addition, the music and some imagery of the film is retro, utilizing 80's pop rock and classic 80's video game images almost in homage to action flicks of that decade. This doesn't quite work as the film is set in modern times and seems almost an afterthought as an attempt to give the film some added style.
Absurd, obnoxious, and over-the-top, Crank is a pure action film of raging masculinity that both insults and entertains.