Shocking: 'Crank' 2 Goes Electric

Metroland | April 23, 2009
Few films have been so brazenly . . . well, brazen as Crank, the high-speed 2006 actioner which found Jason Statham's killer-for-hire Chev Chelios with a ticking time bomb for a heart, racing against impending death as he chased down the thugs that poisoned him. (Ironic that, two years later, Statham would star in a remake of Death Race.) Vulgar, borderline pornographic, and unflinchingly ultraviolent, Crank looked to be made by and for teenage boys—self-aware to a fault, the film used video-game visuals in its credit sequences.

And as Crank was a financial, if not a critical, success, there's a sequel.

Crank: High Voltage picks up exactly where the first film left off—with Chelios having just fallen out of a helicopter to his (apparent) demise. Just like that, a bunch of Chinese gang members scoop him off the pavement—with a shovel—and cart him away to harvest his seemingly invincible ticker. Chelios won’t stand for such humiliation, and soon he's on a mission to win back his heart. Thing is, his has been replaced with a temporary artificial heart, and the only way to keep it beating is to electrically charge it via the skin. Which leads, naturally, to Chelios putting his hands on all kinds of things labeled "danger," between spouting non sequiturs ("Bing fucking Crosby!") and offing everyone in his path.

Like its predecessor, this Crank pulls no punches—or slices, or shootouts, or boob shots, or dick jokes. (Chelios apparently has a huge package. Go figure.) In one frame the filmmakers are one-upping the testicular-torture scene from Casino Royale; in another they take the action through a seedy strip joint for the sake of the scenery. They do an admirable job of keeping the violence straight-faced and the chase scenes fast-paced, all the while keeping their collective tongue firmly in cheek. And Statham proves himself to be just as capable of shouldering a franchise as forebears Vin Diesel or Bruce Willis, mostly because there aren't any expectations pinned on him.

With a cast that could be taken from the next season of Dancing With The Stars (Dwight Yoakam and Amy Smart return, joined by Corey Haim, Bai Ling and David Freaking Carradine) and a mind-boggling list of cameos (from Ron Jeremy to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park to Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell), Crank is the joke that everyone wants to be in on. It's processed cheese: You know it's the wrong color and probably horrible for you, but it looks and tastes so good.


Metroland was founded in 1978 as a monthly entertainment guide; a year and a half later it went weekly, continuing to focus primarily on arts, entertainment and lifestyles. In September 1986, Metroland reinvented itself as a full-fledged alternative newsweekly, offering...
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