Friday, August 20, 2010

'Crank' is chaotic but not all that exciting

Crank (2006)
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, and Carlos Sanz
Directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Professional hit man Chev Chelios (Statham) wakes up to discover that he has himself has been the target of an assassination: He has been poisoned with a slow-acting drug that will kill him if his hear-rate drops. In order to survive long enough to reach the doctor who might save him (Yoakam), he goes on a chaotic rampage across Los Angeles to keep his blood pumping and adrenaline flowing.

"Crank" may be a case of "too much of a good thing." I found the first 45 minutes or so of Chev's quest to stay alive at least long enough to kill those who killed him very amusing and very entertaining. It was a little like the classic "D.O.A." but on speedballs and a gallon of coffee. Statham has many amusing one-liners, and the situation his character is in is both funny and nightmarish in the way it's presented.

But then I started looking at the clock and wondering if the film wouldn't get to some sort of point.

Basically, this is a one-gag story, and the gag starts to wear pretty thin after the third time Chev almost dies and needs to find some other way to keep his excitement up. Yes, there are laughs and plenty of action... but there is no substance. Like the video games the film references on several occassions--characters are playing them, doors are decorated with icons from them--the film keeps looping through the same type of encounters and situations but on different "levels". This is great if you're actually the one playing a video game, but not terribly interesting if you're just watching, as I was with this movie.

I do applaud the filmmakers for creating a film that unfolds like a video game, even if I wish there had been more substance to it, and even if I don't particularly care for the nonsensical, dreamlike ending. It's out of step with the rest of the movie, and fails to take advantage of the ending that was pefectly set up. I suppose they were trying to avoid the pat and obvious "happy ending," but I would have appreciated it.

On the other hand, there is a sequel to this film, featuring Statham, as improbably as that seems given the film's final moments. Maybe the ending I thought was being set up was the actual ending and the dreamlike stuff was just a dream.

So... as much as I don't like the ending, and as much as I wanted "Crank" to bring more than it does--or wanted it to be about 15 minutes shorter--I will probably been seekig out the sequel. I enjoyed it enough that I am curious to see what happens next.

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