Crank tells the story of hit man Chev Chelios (Jason Statham). Chev wakes up and learns that he has been poisoned with an Asian toxin that has no antidote. His life expectancy is an hour at best. The only thing that he can do to counteract the toxin is keep a constant surge of adrenaline coursing through his body. If Chev fails to keep the adrenaline pumping through his system, he will drop dead at a moment’s notice. Chev sets out to bid farewell to his girlfriend and seek revenge on the thug that poisoned him. But the odds are stacked against him and time is running out.
Crank is not a horror film. It is a neo-grindhouse, exploitation classic with some horror elements. It will likely only appeal to a very specific audience but this film panders to that niche very well. Crank is over-the-top in every way. It boasts an insatiable amount of violence, a high body count, and it and crams as much nudity as possible into its 95-minute runtime.
Jason Statham seems right at home as the lead character Chev Chelios. This is a bit of a departure from the PG-13 escapades of The Transporter or The Italian Job but Crank does offer the same type of hard-hitting action Statham has come to be known for since bursting onto the scene several years ago. Most of the supporting players are fairly convincing in their various roles. But the one thing about the film that doesn’t quite fit is Amy Smart as Chev’s girlfriend. The pair seems completely mismatched and their relationship is never quite believable. However, if you’re looking for believability, you’re definitely looking in the wrong place. Crank is the type of film that requires total suspension of disbelief for an hour and a half in order to truly enjoy all that it has to offer.
Crank makes use of both CGI and practical effects. Though I am not typically a proponent of CG, the combination of practical FX and CGI proves to be a winning one in this instance. The slow motion kill scenes in Crank are sure to delight fans of gratuitous gore. There are copious amounts of bloodshed peppered throughout the picture. Everything is weaved together nicely with a backstory fueled by revenge.
Crank is co-written and co-directed by Mark Neveldine (The Vatican Tapes) and Brian Taylor (Ghostrider: Spirit of Vengeance). The pair does a commendable job of recreating the gritty, relentless aesthetic of a ‘70s exploitation film. Everything from the camera lens to the set décor gives the film a sleazy and gritty feel perfectly fitting to the picture’s tone. One gets the impression that Neveldine and Taylor were raised on exploitation cinema and this is their modern day love song to the grindhouse pictures of the ‘70s.
The script explores well-tread territory but does so in a way that makes the subject matter fun to revisit. The screenplay offers up some particularly memorable one-liners and paints some colorful characters that are brought to life with enthusiasm by a talented cast.
The script delivers plenty of fast paced action sequences. The pacing is one of the film’s strong suits. It starts out with a bang and the action does not let up until the end credits role. The stunts are amazing and talented stunt performers execute them flawlessly.
Crank will certainly not appeal to everyone but it will undoubtedly delight fans of exploitation filmmaking. It is a clever throwback to the height of drive in theaters and grindhouse double features. If that kind of thing appeals to you, then check out this sometimes overlooked contemporary classic. It is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray from LionsGate. The Blu-ray disc has some great special features; including a family friendly audio track. If you have sensitive ears around, you can watch the film with the expletives eliminated. It also offers interactive commentary and more!
Director(s): Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Writer(s): Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Stars: Jason Statham, Amy Smart
Studio/ Production Co: LionsGate
Budget: $12 Million
Length: 93 Minutes