New York Times reviewer wrote: "Crank: High Voltage, starring Jason
Statham as a man with a machine instead of a heart, is boorish, bigoted
and borderline pornographic."
Very true. It is also crude, low-rent, lowbrow, insensitive, soulless,
tasteless, offensive, lurid, sensationalistic, juvenile, racist, vulgar,
ridiculous, sophomoric, politically incorrect, and completely demented from start to
What I can't understand is why the reviewer thought those were bad
It may have something to do with the facts that (a) the reviewer is a
chick (2) she works for the humor-challenged New York Times.
The basic idea is that Chev (Jason Statham) has his heart removed by
some baddies, who keep him alive temporarily by jury-rigging a battery
pack to duplicate his heart functions. The only reason they keep him alive
is that they want him to be awake when they remove his other vital organs.
Of course, when he awakens from the surgery, he's understandably a bit
upset that he has no heart, but he really gets ticked off when he
overhears the surgeons say that the next organ to be removed will be his
dick. Upon discovering that, he rises from his death-bed, kills a few
random people, and starts out in search of his missing heart, a search
which basically consists of maiming and torturing random people who refuse
to help him. What makes it a Crank movie is that his battery pack needs
constant recharging from power stations and car engines and whatever other
sources of energy he can find. After a re-charge, he temporarily acquires
superhuman energy, but as his charge wears off, his strength ebbs to the
sub-human level until he can find another place to get a jump.
(Boy, do some cops get a nasty surprise when they tase him instead of
subduing him manually. Each blast from the tasers makes him stronger,
until he has power rivaling The Incredible Hulk.)
I won't bore you with any more of the outlandish details of the plot.
Wikipedia has a very complete summary, spoilers and all, if you are
The point is that Crank is not actually a high-voltage action film, but
a parody of one. It is indeed a stupid and ridiculous film, as the New
York Times noted, and that is precisely the point! It is wildly
imaginative, surreal, and obviously intended to be funny. Although Jason
Statham plays a perfect straight man in the center of the madness, there
is not one minute of the film that is meant to be taken seriously, and
that would be apparent to anyone not employed by the New York Times. Yes,
it is a non-stop orgy of over-the-top violence and borderline porn. Yes,
it totally lacks any human emotion and resembles a superhero video game.
That is exactly what is intended. I have to say that the film succeeds in
spades. Although it is not the kind of film I would ordinarily watch for
my own pleasure, I found watching it to be a fascinating and exhausting
experience. Excluding the credits, the actual running time is only about
80 minutes, and that is filled with so much frenetic action that it makes
the first Crank movie seem as slow and stately as a Tarkovsky film.
Compared to this, the opening sequence of Roger Rabbit moves slower than
The English Patient. Chev makes Lola seem like she was crawling.
It's just filled with bizarre cameos and sidetracks. One of the Spice
Girls plays Chev's mother in an off-kilter flashback sequence. A topless
stripper gets caught in the middle of a shoot-out, and the gunfire
punctures her implants. That pompous guy who played Q on Star Trek plays a
wacked-out TV commentator named Fish Halman, who seems to be channeling
Glenn Beck. Corey Haim makes a brief appearance. David Carradine plays a
stereotypical old Chinese man - and while that is totally offensive, he
brings far more dignity to the Chinese people than any of the other
Chinese characters in the movie - and they were really Chinese. (Bai
Ling's character speaks English, but requires English subtitles!)
How large is the audience for such base tomfoolery? I don't know, but
it's probably quite small. Older people will dismiss this nonsense as
sophomoric and brainless. Conservative people will find it pornographic
and trashy. Mainstream date audiences will find it demented, and I don't
know many women I'd recommend it to. Family audiences should not even
consider seeing it. You'd cause your kids fewer nightmares by taking them
to a triple bill consisting of Hellraiser, a snuff film, and a hard-core
porn movie. The only ones to appreciate this film will be the fanboys who
love video game movies, and the movie buffs who reach nirvana when a film
really tests the outside of the envelope. Having said that, I'll add that
if you are in those latter groups, you will probably find it as much fun
as I did!