Crank 2: High Voltage Review

What is there to say to Crank 2: High Voltage? Those of you who have already seen it know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, the experience is roughly analogous to walking in on your kid using the neighbor’s cats to re-enact the civil war. You know, deep down, that you’re supposed to scold your kid, maybe get him psychiatric help, but your obligatory socially conscious reaction is undercut by two factors: a) it’s kind of hilarious, and b) you can't even begin to fathom why it happened in the first place.

Picking up several months after the events of the first film, the film opens with our dashing lead hero Chev Chelios (Jason Statham, who proves here that he can grunt and scowl his way through any role) falling out of an airplane and landing on the hard pavement of a city street. And living. Moments later, several people jump out of a signature white kidnapping van, pull him into it, and speed him away to a secretive doctor’s office/brothel (I’m not making this up), where they remove his super-powered heart and replace it with a battery. Since he can only live without an actual heart for so long (and keeping a battery strapped to his chest all the time is kind of cumbersome), he makes it priority number one once he wakes up to get his heart back and then jam it into his chest. And no one should ever get between Jason Statham and his priorities…

I realize as I’m writing this that that was the single shortest description of plot that I’ve ever given, and with good reason: it was a stretch to write even that much. On a scene by scene basis, this film really only concerns itself with ways that Chelios can keep himself electrically charged when his battery starts to go low, which include zapping himself with electric dog collars, hooking himself up to car batteries, and, of course, having sex in public places (one particularly memorable set piece occurs when he nails his old girlfriend, Amy Smart, in the middle of a racetrack). He also interacts, rather inconsequentially with some of the most horrifying racial caricatures to appear in an American film in years, the most egregious being Ria (Bai Ling), who seems to be channeling the prostitute from Full Metal Jacket for the entire film (the one that inspired 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny”), and the elderly Poon Dong, played by David Carradine, who seems more or less determined to destroy all of the good will engendered by Kill Bill and reignite the anger caused by his taking Bruce Lee’s role in Kung Fu. And whenever those things aren’t working out, the film is more than happy to cut to something totally unrelated to what’s going on, such as a video game representation of the events going on, or a talk show scene featuring Chelios as a child.

In its insatiable desire to be the center of attention in any environment that it might happen to be playing in (if Godzilla was attacking New York while this was playing in Times Square, it’d be hard to say what the more ostentatious sight would be), the film’s only real parallel in American film is Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. But unlike Killers, Crank 2 has no center to it, no real plot, no real characterizations, and nothing resembling a story arc. Your ability to stick with this movie until the end will be entirely dependent on your ability to be shocked into laughter, in the way that we all probably laughed the first time we heard Eric Cartman curse like a sailor. It’s a surprise, to be sure, but it doesn’t take long to realize that this movie isn’t going anywhere, and that after a while, the joke isn’t as funny as it seems to be constantly insisting that it is.

>DVD Bonus Features

The disc also features audio commentary by the writing/directing team Neveldine/Taylor, two featurettes, and a digital copy, so that you can take it with you wherever you go.

"Crank 2: High Voltage" is on sale September 8, 2009 and is rated R. Action. Directed by Mark Neveldine. Written by Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor. Starring Amy Smart, Clifton Collins Jr, David Carradine, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Jason Statham, Ling Bai.

Anders Nelson • Associate Editor


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