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One Helluva Wild Ride - Buckle Up!
on November 27, 2006
Say this for "Crank," it definitely isn't boring. And it is certainly original and audacious. It is also ridiculous and will not hold up under any scrutiny. I, however, dismiss all logical criticisms of this movie, and any like it, with a wave of the hand. This movie exists solely to pop, rock and shock the audience. It is fake, over the top, ridiculous and outrageous. And that is precisely why it is one of the freshest, funniest and best pure action flicks in a long while. Sure there are more studied and complex action thrillers out there, but this is the most fun, junk-action pic this side of "Road House" and its cult action ilk. Not just a dumb campfest though, mind you; oh it's certainly none too brainy, but it has aspirations to shock and thrill beyond just having a bunch of guys shoot at each other or crash cars into things. There is a lot of that here, but the scenarios that spawn such things have to be seen to be believed. Ditto this movie. Everything here is taken to another level. Logical restrictions be damned. And the movie, and audience, is better for it.
There is, of course, already a movie called "Speed," and a terrific one at that; but had the title not been taken, this film would personify truth in advertising had it been able to use it. In a plot similar to the Keaue Reeves VS the bus classic, hitman and all around bad-a*s (we know this because he grimaces and talks in one of those threatening whispers ala Clint Eastwood and Steven Seagal) Jason Statham is injected with a virus known as "The Beijing Cocktail" that will explode his heart if its rate drops too low. You can only imagine all the different things he uses to keep his heart rate consistently above average: from waffle irons to nasal inhalers, deliberators to public sex, surfing atop motorcycles to jumping out of windows, the movie takes the `everything but the kitchen sink approach' and exploits the full potential of this outlandish premise, right up to its climax, which manages to feel truly bizarre, even for a movie in which you thought you've seen everything that could possibly come off as bizarre already. Yep, it just keeps on pushing those genre conventions.
Statham is good in a role that basically requires him to play the transporter again, although he loses his cool far more often in this film and spews far more expletives. However, if one were to imagine the Transporter's reaction to being injected with this type of poison, this is pretty much how we would expect his reaction, and the film, to play out. Amy Smart is good too in a minimalist role. Strong, stylish direction helps. If you're movie is essentially a cartoon already, cartoonish staging of the action is pretty much a key to making it work. The film is in on its own joke, which is a good thing. Rather than sell any of this as plausible, everyone involved simply goes with it.
As much as I dug this film, it admittedly won't be everyone's cup of tea. However, if you are someone who complains that action movies have become too generic, here's a big present for you.
"Crank" is often laugh-out-loud funny, jaw-on-the-floor audacious, and also manages to wring suspense out of its many close calls, and it never forgets to throw in a surprise here and there to keep things spicy.
Sounds like a five-star action pic to me.
(This DVD includes a feature called "family friendly audio" which, according to the description on the back of the DVD jacket, allows the viewer to "enjoy the film without the usual expletives." This might be a great feature for a romantic comedy or a drama of some educational value that you may want the kids to see and just wish there were a few unnecessary expletives blurted out, but on this movie this feature is as ridiculously amusing as the film itself. Yeah, block out the swear words for the kids, but let them see all the sex, nudity, and violence. There is no way to make a movie like this family friendly (and it should not be - that is one of its main allures). If you are a parent and all you care about is that your child does not hear some foul language, but the rest of the stuff they are going to see in films like this is okay, then you seriously have your priorities screwed up. So, I'm not sure why this feature is here. It just stuck me as so ridiculously odd and pointless I had to point it out (I'm sure others who see this will be thinking the same). But it's one more sign that in everything right down to the film's DVD technical features, "Crank" is an absurd, hilarious action classic.)