By Shawn McKenzie 09/02/2006
From the opening strains of Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” that opens the movie, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), a freelance hitman for a West Coast crime syndicate, realizes that he is about to have one of the worst days of his life. He wakes up from what he thinks is a bad hangover, but it is far worse. He sees a DVD left in his place from his rival, Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo.) It shows Verona and his brother Alex (Jay Xcala) sneaking into Chev’s place, hitting Chev with a bat, and injecting him with a slow-release poison called the Beijing Cocktail in his unconscious state. Chev receives a call on his cell from Verona that confirms this, and he actually wonders why Chev isn’t dead yet, because the poison will stop his heart in about an hour if he doesn’t do something about it to keep his heart at bay. He tries calling his dense girlfriend Eve Lydon (Amy Smart) on the phone to warn her that people might be coming after her, but he gets her answering machine. He has no idea why Verona has done this, but it might have something to do with the fact that he let his last target, a Chinese crime lord named Don Kim (Keone Young), escape with his life. He decided to spare Kim’s life because he wanted to leave the hitman life and live a normal life with Eve, who currently thinks that he is a video game programmer. Chev tries calling his doctor, Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), but the woman who acts as Miles’ “answering service,” Chocolate (Valarie Rae Miller), tells Chev that the good doc is busy (he is busy being pleasured by hookers in Las Vegas.) Meanwhile, Chev calls his cross-dressing friend Kaylo (Efren Ramirez) and tells him to look for Varona so that he can find his would-be assassin and either enact revenge or get an antidote from him. Chev starts out running around L.A. to keep his heart rate up by buying cocaine from Orlando (Reno Wilson), the owner of a black biker bar called Sin City. When that doesn’t seem to work (he sloppily snorted it, so he probably didn’t get the full effect of this “medicinal cocaine”), he purposely picks a fight with Orlando’s cronies. He finally gets Miles on the phone, who tells him that he did indeed receive a dose of the Beijing Cocktail, and that he needs to find some artificial adrenaline called epinephrine to keep him going until the good doc can get back to L.A. and find a way to keep him alive. Chev sticks up a convenience store clerk (Dorian Kingi) and downs as many Rockstar and Red Bull energy drinks as he can. He then heads over to his mob boss Carlito’s (Carlos Sanz) mansion to see why Verona has it out for him. Carlito doesn’t seem to care, so the race of his life is on. After finding and disposing of Alex (which involved a butcher knife), Chev goes to the pharmacy of a local hospital and demands from the pharmacist (Stephanie Mace) that he wants some epinephrine. When the pharmacist appears sketchy while getting the drug, a junkie who happens to be waiting in line (Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the nü-metal band Linkin Park) tells him that nasal spray has epinephrine in it, which will get you tweaked. He gathers some bottles up and runs through the hospital to get a more potent dose. He forces a hospital doctor (Glenn Howerton) to give him the epinephrine and then use the defibrillator on him. From that point on, Chev does many crazy things…like steal a motorcycle cop’s (Sean Graham) bike, slam his hand in a waffle iron, take a trippy drug given to him by a Haitian cabbie (Edi Gathegi), and have public sex with Eve in front of a busy crowd…in order to stay alive until Miles arrives.
Have you ever chugged a Red Bull that got you wired for at least an hour? That’s what watching Crank is like…an 83-minute movie energy drink. I swear that I was amped up after watching the movie!
Lionsgate didn’t technically screen the movie for critics (I saw it during a public free screening), but I don’t know what they were worried about. Sure…the fast pace and blatant offensiveness of the flick might make some more stuffy older critics have a heart attack, but this one might be for a younger crowd with healthy hearts.
Statham is on a role of intense characters. Between the first two Transporter movies and 2003’s The Italian Job, along with his bad guy role in 2004’s Cellular, he is fast becoming one of the more entertaining action stars in the business today. Unfortunately, I just found out that his next role is going to be in next year’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, directed by Uwe Boll, a.k.a. the Ed Wood of crappy video game adaptations. Maybe Statham’s presence will elevate it, so I will have to wait and see.
The rest of the cast is your standard set of stereotypical bad guys, so I won’t bother getting into them. An actress can do the ditzy blonde role well (Goldie Hawn, Lisa Kudrow) or badly (almost every other actress attempting it), but fortunately, Smart falls into the former category. I love Yoakam (for both his movies and his singing), but I find it funny…why is he always appearing in messed-up R-rated movies (1996’s Sling Blade, 2002’s Panic Room)? I guess he chooses side projects that are interesting, since his bread-and-butter is making some of the best traditional country music of the last 20 years. Ramirez is the only one who doesn’t bring anything to the plate. His character isn’t nearly as interesting as the dour Pedro in 2004’s Napoleon Dynamite. Cross-dressing didn’t make him any more fascinating.
The brazen scenes of racism and sexuality might offend some people. You have to keep in mind though…Chev beats up blacks and Latinos in the movie for a reason…to keep the adrenaline flowing to his heart. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do that stuff normally, since he works with them in the hitman world. His scene with Eve, where he almost rapes her in a crowded Chinese neighborhood, was done for the same reason (Eve started out resisting it, but then got excited by the thrill of public sex. I’m guessing that it isn’t something that is for everyone.) Take the scenes with a grain of salt when you watch them.
I will admit that, based on preview trailers, Crank looked like it was showing us The Transporter 3 (which isn’t a bad thing, since I loved both of the first two movies.) The writing and directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have developed a style though that borrows elements of fast-paced action movies, like 1994’s Speed and 1998’s Run Lola Run, and pushes the intensity up a notch. I’ve never played the game, but I’ve heard that it is like playing any of the versions of Grand Theft Auto. If you want a movie to take the place your energy drink fix, this is the movie for you!
Buy this CD at
SEE THIS MOVIE!
Catch this movie at the theater if you can...
Wait until it comes out on video...
Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...
Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!