Posted by: znewkirk | April 28, 2009

New Release: Crank: High Voltage

2009 | Writers/Directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (“Crank”)
Note the realistic water balloon the filmmakers used for a heart

Note the realistic water balloon the filmmakers used for a heart

For those of you who like the first “Crank”—which is me and about 23 other people, if box office receipts are accurate—its sequel, “Crank: High Voltage,” starts off in an easy-to-follow manner, picking up precisely where the first one ended (spoiler alert): with erstwhile hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) falling thousands of feet from a helicopter and smashing into a car before bouncing to the pavement, dead.
Only he’s not dead, if “Voltage” is to be believed. The same hale organs that kept Chelios kicking through the unlikely contrivances of “Crank” have continued working through his misadventures in terminal velocity, and are now desired by some of the more shadowy denizens of Los Angeles’ underworld for their mythical strength and stamina. Thus Chelios is strapped to a makeshift table by Chinese doctors and his valuable heart is removed and replaced by an artificial model powered by an external battery. When Chelios awakens three months later to find his ticker missing, he is understandably miffed, prompting him to journey, Odysseus-like, through the crime-ridden streets of L.A. to find and replace the heart, with help from not-quite-grieving girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) and the morally bankrupt Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam). The only stops he makes are to charge his battery by increasingly deadly means.
Despite his continued forays into similar action films, Statham is by no means a bad actor. “Voltage,” in fact, showcases a refreshingly manic side to the Brit’s typically deadpan chops, helped along by the breakneck pace and strangely-cartoonish direction of co-helmers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. It’s the ultra-violent satire of action films that “Shoot ‘Em Up” strained, but failed, to be, and Statham is its anchor, as well as the only constant between the sequel and its mild-by-comparison progenitor. If the Chelios of “Crank” has learned anything by the time “Voltage” fires up, it’s that mere tenacity might be enough when trying to outlast the effects of a deadly poison, but it won’t cut it when it comes to hunting down one’s own cold-stored heart—a valuable life lesson for the young and old alike, though neither the young nor the old should be watching a movie as violent and vulgar as this.
It’s not enough to say that “Crank: High Voltage” stretches the limits of believability. Odd surrealist touches and moments of understated humor pepper the film’s violent margins, and the film devolves into a pointless mess in its final moments, but, lest I am misunderstood, none of that makesVoltage” a bad film. On the contrary, each seemingly detached setpiece and weird digression—such as that in which a hallucinating Chelios and an adversary are shown boxing in slow-motion in Godzilla-style rubber suits above a miniature of a power plant—only add to the film’s psychopathic charm. It’s about as purposefully stupid an action film as has ever been made, but it’s presented with such relentless energy and sheer inventiveness that it’s impossible not to be blown away. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.
Rating: Four of Five Stars


  1. Sounds like the kind of absurd movie I can get behind.

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