Neveldine/Taylor direct Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Bai Ling and Efren Ramirez in this action comedy series where a hitman has to survive a fraught couple of hours where something in his body will shutdown if he doesn’t keep his pecker up.
A frankly bizarro mixture of D.O.A. / Speed / G.T.A. that just about works. Every camera trick, cheap FX and mad edit is deployed to deliver something that is pretty self consciously juvenile. The Crank movies are set in a world of cartoonish bad taste that intend to offend every modern moral but really have a similar sweet impact as a four-year-old repeating the same swear word over and over. To keep his heart pumping The Stath’s Chev Chelios will do anything. Toilet floor coke, public sex, gang warfare, defibrillators, jumping out of helicopters. It is all very tongue-in-cheek and all a little deadening. Half an hour works better than a whole feature length sitting. Crank feels like a series made preemptively to watch while simultaneously scrolling at your phone screen, full of short sharps shocks to let you know when the mad violent mania is worth sequestering your full attention.
Jason is game. Selling the physicality and drive of Chelios to either survive or take as many bastards down with him on the way. He’s a desperate character, true anti-hero, who never loses his cool, even when dressed in surgery gowns or Puma shellsuits. MVP though is Amy Smart as his unwitting girlfriend. She’s a cute character who sells the comedy and her wholesome sexiness really well. She inarguably elevates the portions she is in and it is a shame both movies relegate her offscreen for entire hours of their brief runtimes. If Smart and Statham were a consistent double act for the full length of their adventures I’d probably revisit a Crank far more often.
The sequel is probably the better film of the pair just as it really doesn’t give a shit about sensibilities, is packed with genuinely quirky cameos and has the feeling of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World or Magnolia with its overlapping side plots and sub characters. In an ideal world, the set pieces might have a bit more tension to them, a bit more girth but Neveldine/Taylor are all about instant gratification rather than delivering escalating traps or sustained spectacle.
My wife and I do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/