Saturday, July 26, 2008
(Image from IMP Awards)
'Crank' is an improbably entertaining movie. It's as high concept as it gets - professional assassin Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is injected with a poison by gangster Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) that will kill him slowly; it is also debilitating unless he keeps his adrenaline level high. The story that ensues is basically a race to find a cure and take revenge, with Chev being hyper and excited the whole time and doing insane things to maintain enough adrenaline in his system to keep the poison at bay. Also along for the ride are Chev's girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) and his snide doctor, Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam).
Much like its protagonist, the film has a surfeit of adrenaline flowing through it from start to finish. The outrageous plot is not half bad given that it's basically designed to get Chev from one ludicrous scenario to the next. It features lean storytelling that is fully committed to its premise; it's also completely irreverent, with a hero who is a remorseless, amoral killer willing to do whatever it takes to survive. And while the movie is action packed and full of violence - there are car chases and shootouts aplenty - it is also very funny, with a darkly comedic tone throughout. If you think about the premise, the inherent comedy value of a guy doing anything to stay excited ought to be self evident. And Chev stops at nothing to stay frantic, including having sex with his girlfriend in a public place in front of a throng of cheering onlookers!
In many ways 'Crank' has the feel of a video game, with stylistic flourishes that seem to evoke the GTA series, and it even references video games directly on a few occasions. The action is exciting, with inventive sequences, snappy editing and kinetic camerawork; there's also an interesting use of first person / odd camera perspectives and sometimes bizarre on screen text. Overall, with its colourful visuals and thumping soundtrack, the film is quite successful at making the viewer maintain the same level of excitement as its hero! Jason Statham is by no means a great actor but he has his niche and is perfect in this sort of role - he's an explosive presence and has always exuded an air of barely contained rage, and this film allows him to unleash it. Amy Smart is also smokin and strangely sweet as his dumb blonde girlfriend. Dwight Yoakam is hilarious as the Doc who seems like he's just wandered onto the set by mistake. The rest of the actors make for a colourful lineup and round out an effective cast.
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor crafted an inventive and exhilarating experience with 'Crank', one that I thought might be somewhat fun but which ended up leaving me wearing a pretty big grin throughout its runtime! Sure it's daft as hell, but it isn't ashamed of that fact at all - in fact, it embraces it! I'm quite curious to see how the forthcoming sequel will turn out; needless to say, it's on my to watch list!