Washington City Paper | September 8, 2006
A movie that takes exception to the idea of one happy, global family is Crank. Co-written and -directed by first-timers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Crank is mindless entertainment of the most gleeful kind. It’s full of sex (in the middle of a Chinatown market), drugs (“medicinal” coke), and rock ’n’ roll (“Metal Health” and, uh, “Achy Breaky Heart”). It stars perhaps the coolest new leading man on the planet, the Transporter franchise’s Jason Statham. And like the films that brought Statham fame, Crank makes you laugh at its knowing absurdity and over-the-top action, which, like the bus in that Keanu movie, can literally never stop.

Statham plays Chev, a Los Angeles hit man who crossed the wrong people and learns via a DVD labeled “Fuck you” that he’s been poisoned with the “Beijing cocktail” in his sleep. The drug makes him woozy, and the message makes him mad, so Chev destroys his television and off he goes to get revenge. Speeding along in his classic car, he’s fine. Sitting at red lights, he’s not. (In case we don’t see the torpor overcoming him, there are graphics of his heart to show its state.) Chev figures out a little too quickly that he needs adrenaline to stay alive, but he calls his doctor (Dwight Yoakam) anyway—“What are you doing?” Doc asks. “Driving through mall. Cops chasing me,” Chev nonchalantly answers—who confirms his suspicion and tells him to get some epinephrine stat.

At first, Crank threatens to be another Domino. Neveldine and Taylor hyperstylize the beginning to the point of unwatchability, with the camera whirling and jumping and even still shots flashing too quickly to give your stomach a break. The credits and street grid that show Chev’s location make the movie look like a video game, and random bits of dialogue are written in subtitles. Thankfully, though, the filmmakers somehow make the latter concept funny, and the overall visual frenzy is mostly limited to the endless tactics Chev takes to keep himself going—which themselves are endlessly inventive, including not just violence and fast driving but using nasal spray and rocking out to a cover of the Mulleted One’s classic as if it were death metal.

Obviously, Neveldine and Taylor have a sense of humor, and Statham’s deadpan presence is the perfect complement. (“Hang on,” Chev tells his doctor while he’s driving through the mall. The next shot? His car wedged in an escalator.) Chev’s ditzy girlfriend, played by a perfectly annoying Amy Smart, further complicates his time’s-running-out dilemma as he tries to shield her from his brutal reality for as long as possible by, say, dumping out the contents of her purse while he goes off to punch a few people. It’s all played, unsurprisingly, more for the sake of maximum action than of sense. But isn’t it better to find entertaining illogic in movies than depressing irrationality in the real world?

Washington City Paper

In a city where a great deal of attention is focused on national affairs, Washington City Paper maintains a relentless emphasis on local Washington. City Paper serves as the definitive local guide to cultural and civic life in the District...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 1400 I St. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005
  • Phone: (202) 332-2100