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Head Rush

 

Crank

Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, USA, 2006

Rating: 3.1

 

Posted: September 6, 2006

By Vincenzo

Iíll give you this: Crank is one visually clever flick. That is, if you can get past the title credit, which is basically a pulsating red-and-orange screen with ďCrankĒ written at the top in the kind of computer lettering that was considered high-tech back when Space Invaders was the pinnacle of video-game technology. Beneath it thereís a beating heart that doesnít look much more realistic than one of those invaders themselves. Come to think of it, the first five or ten minutes arenít that hot, either.

But after that, the visuals begin to pick up. You get a random shot of a birdís heart beating inside its chest; you get film of turtles going at it inexplicably projected onto the ceiling of a public restroom; you even get a funny shot of the main character reading another characterís subtitled speech -- only itís from the point of view of the guy whoís speaking, so the subtitle is in reverse. Like I said, really witty stuff, even if it doesnít really make a lot of sense.

Too bad you canít really say that about the script. I was interested in Crank because I liked the star, Jason Statham, in Transporter 2, even if it did seem a little too closely modeled after my own life. And the flick also has an intriguing set-up: Statham plays Chev Chelios (Címon now -- Chev? What the hell is up with that name?), a hit man for a West Coast crime syndicate whoís been injected with some bizarre Chinese drug by this annoying Oriental gang-banger. Turns out olí Chev (damn, every time I type it Iím reminded of how stupid it is) did something to piss off his bosses, and this is payback. (Maybe it was stealing the last name of the great Detroit Red Wings player Chris Chelios and sticking ďChevĒ in front of it, for all I know.)

Heís told heís got about an hour to live, so he rushes off to exact as much revenge as he can -- and to keep the bad guys from perpetrating foul deeds on his girlfriend, a hot piece of ass named Eve and played by Amy Smart, the chick who takes her top off in Road Trip. Man, this chick just oozes a kind of sleepy sex-kitten vibe throughout the movie that makes you think your johnsonís gonna turn into a steel rod, much as Chevís does as a result of all the drugs he starts taking to jump-start his adrenaline and keep him alive.

Yeah, about that -- Turns out Chev (jeez Louise) has a good buddy whoís a doctor, played by the country singer Dwight Yoakam, who must have really needed the cash, because this is a long way from Sling Blade, if you get my meaning. Anyway, this guy clues Chev (Jesus) in that adrenaline is the only thing that will keep him alive, so he starts downing Red Bulls, taking those little energy packets they sell at convenience stores, and even shooting up epinephrine. This gives him just enough juice to track down the so-hot-itís-not-even-remotely-funny Eve (kind of like a cuter, less annoying Kate Hudson) and stay a half-step ahead of the bad guys.

Sounds okay so far, right? Except. Except you never really care about Chev (God, what a moronic effiní name). Heís a hard cat to sympathize with -- even if he does look a little like yours truly. I mean, he practically almost rapes Eve in front of a crowd of Chinese-American busybodies when he needs an adrenaline boost -- sheís uber-hot and all, sure, but thatís no way to treat a lady.

Plus, none of the bad guys are all that menacing -- if anything, theyíre just annoying, just like Chevís (Iím gonna hurl) sexually confused sidekick, who wears belly shirts and dances in nightclubs dressed like some reject from one of them Japanese cartoons -- what do you call Ďem, anime or something. (Man, did we ever mess those dudes up when we dropped the bomb. I mean, seriously.) The fact that this dude is played by Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite says volumes about that movieís lack of masculinity. (Iím sorry, but if you liked Dynamite, you need a check-up down below, if you catch my drift.)

So the story starts to lose your interest, but luckily thereís enough violence to perk things up -- especially when Chev (good lord) chops off a dudeís hand. (A bit too cleanly, if you ask me, but hey, this is the movies.) Not even the choppy editing and overall amateurish feel of the movie (startling in the very beginning, less obtrusive as time goes by) undermines the physical stuff too much. Which is good, because really, thatís why weíre all here, right?

I wonít give away the ending, except to say that the filmmakers donít take the easy cop-out. Chev (for the love of all thatís holy) doesnít just waltz off into the sunset without paying for the ugly and violent life heís led. His redemption feels a little false -- sure, heís trying to make sure no one hurts Eve, which is a cause Iíd lay down my own life for. But heís also in hardcore eye-for-an-eye revenge mode, and he doesnít mind threatening innocent civilians or crashing vehicles into heavily populated areas, endangering lots of innocent lives. (Granted, heís on drugs, and fighting to stay alive long enough to put a world of hurt on some annoying creeps, but whatever happened to the social niceties?)

But then again, this flick wasnít made to hold up to intense scrutiny. Itís a violent B-movie action flick, a fun matinee picture with a decent premise and enough Jolt Cola-style buzz to speed you through its gummy patches. And the directors -- never heard of Ďem, but it looks like they funded this thing with a bank loan -- do throw in some smart visual tricks, as I mentioned before. With any luck, thisíll make enough scratch so they can make another one, and hopefully hire some more menacing-looking bad guys and even a couple of script rewrites. Just bring Amy Smart back, preferably in as little as sheís willing to wear, and Iíll plop down my hard-earned bucks. Heck, get her to do a nude scene, Iíll even pay full price. And for goodness sake, give the main character a better name. Whatís wrong with Vincenzo?

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