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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

eFilmcritic Archive: "Crank" (2006)

One thing’s for certain: You’ve never seen a movie quite like “Crank” before. Sure, the movie has been inviting comparisons to the equally stylistic and frenetic “Running Scared” (from earlier this year) with a storyline that derives from “D.O.A.” (either version), but that still doesn’t quite prepare you for the audacity, hilarity and absurdity that takes place within the film’s 87-minute running time. It’s a movie that dares to “go there” just to see what would happen if it did. It moves at such a pace that you don’t really have time to process everything that’s happening, but it’s better if you don’t stop to think, because that would probably ruin the experience. At times, “Crank”’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-then-some approach feels more like a cartoon than a video game. It really wouldn’t be unheard of if the main character picked up an anvil out of nowhere and dropped it on someone’s head.

Some viewers might walk out as though an anvil fell on their head, but that’s part of the intent. The storyline concerns a freelance hitman named Chev Chelios (“The Transporter”’s Jason Statham), who wakes up one morning and learns a poison has been injected in him. In a frantic search to find the culprit, a crime boss named Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), Chev learns from his doctor/dealer Miles (Dwight Yoakam) that if he slows his heart rate down, the poison will kill him instantly. Chev needs to keep his adrenaline racing as he waits for his doctor friend to fly into L.A. to give him the only known antidote.

First-time filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor try every stylistic approach in the book to put us in Chev’s mind as he runs from situation to situation. A car chase ends up in a shopping mall without so much as a second thought; Chev’s adventure in a hospital results in a drug inducement that sends him spiraling into blissful, hyperactive madness; even the passersby in Chinatown are treated to a show on the street as Chev and his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) go to unspeakable, unthinkable lengths to keep Chev’s heart rate up. It’s quite the spectacle.

But that sentence could also sum up the rest of the movie. This should be a negative criticism, but the movie feels as though it were constructed out of one-sentence suggestions from the editors of Maxim magazine on how to create the ultimate movie. Unlike that magazine, though, “Crank”’s sense of machismo has its endearing moments. Chev turns into a different person when he finally hooks up with Eve. In spite of his condition, which he keeps secret from her for a while, he remains a dutiful and upstanding boyfriend. In one scene, Eve has a case of the hiccups. We wait for Chev to turn ugly on her by demanding that she drink some water. Instead, he ignores it. He might be able to push over ailing patients in a hospital, but he still has to be nice to his girlfriend.

“Crank” is not for everyone and there’s no doubt the film will have its share of detractors. Lions Gate kept this film from the major critics and screened it only for the junket whores. I can’t figure out why. Did they think that its un-P.C. nature would cause us all to spit bile at the film? I would think this would be the kind of film a critic loves to write about, no matter what their reaction. It’s one of those movies where you just don’t know where to begin in talking about it. Love it or hate it, “Crank” makes for a far more rewarding experience than your average, no-frills mistaken identity comedy or serial killer thriller. At least this movie takes chances, right up until the final frame, and that’s reason enough to cheer for it…kitchen sink, anvil and all.

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