Things I Learned From Movie X: Crank: High Voltage
By Edwin Davies
December 9, 2010

Wow, he's,

First off, apologies for the extra colon making the title look so cluttered. Blame Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine (or Neveldine/Taylor as they have been known since they went through that teleporter together) for opting for the inclusion of a subtitle to indicate that Crank: High Voltage is a sequel, rather than the more elegant "Crank 2" or my suggestion of "The Man Who Couldn't Slow Down."

Crank: High Voltage follows the continued adventures of Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), a hitman who in the first film was pumped full of a toxin that would kill him if he didn’t keep his adrenaline high enough. This gave Neveldine/Taylor license to throw out all the elements of an action movie that slow it down – like “plot,” or “characters” or “relationships” – the better to deliver a pure, unfiltered blast of excitement to the audience. Had Chev Chelios been able to watch Crank, instead of merely starring in it, he’d have had no problem keeping his heart rate up.

Despite throwing their main character out of a helicopter without a parachute at the end of the first Crank, Neveldine/Taylor, brought Chev Chelios (Man, that’s a fun name to write, and to say!) back for another frenetic slice of glorious stupidity in the sequel. This was mainly because Crank remains the most successful film they’ve ever made (their only other directorial effort, Gamer, starring Things I Learned From Movie X favorite Gerard Butler, flopped hard) but I’d like to think that they felt they still had more to teach us, and I’m sure you will all agree that this is the case.

There truly is no such thing as "too ridiculous"

The other day I was round at a friend’s house playing Rock Band and eating some really quite terrible but delicious junk food when the topic of discussion, as it so often does, turned to the oeuvre of Jason Statham, arguably the greatest world class diver-turned-actor who ever lived. It was during this conversation that one of my friends revealed that they hated Crank: High Voltage, despite loving the first one, because it was “too silly.”

I was a little dumbfounded by this. On the one hand, the first movie is one of the most ridiculous action films ever made, and the sequel really just picks up at the frenzied pitch that the first finished at, but mainly because his criticisms of how ridiculous the film are rendered moot by the fact that the film is not a conventional atmosphere, but a surrealistic experiment in the vein of Un Chien Andalou or Eraserhead.

The film begins with Chev waking up in hospital to discover that a Chinese crime lord (played by David Carradine(!)) has stolen his indestructible heart (or “me f*ing pumper,” to put it in Chelios-speak) and that he is being kept alive with an artificial heart so that the surgery team can harvest the rest of his super-organs. It’s as they are eyeing up his rather ample manhood that Chev breaks free in the hopes of getting his heart back. That’s how the movie starts.

From there, scenes involving porn stars protesting over unfair wages, an athletic sex scene on a race course and a final fight in which Chev comes face to face with the severed but still alive head of the villain from the first film are really just par for the course.

Chester Bennington has found his true calling

Partial transcript of conversation between myself and Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, which may or may not have happened.

Hey Chester, it’s Ed from Things I Learned From Movie X. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Listen, Chester, bubula, you don’t need to know who I am, what that is or how I got your number, all you need to know is that I saw you in Crank: High Voltage and all I have to say is; ”wow.” I mean, I thought you were great in the first one – when you told Chev Chelios that he could use asthma medicine to get his heart rate up, I thought that you really meant it. I don’t know if you went method on that, bro, or if you just learned your lines or whatever, but damn! Real, like, that was like some real emotional truth and shit – but you really raised your game this time. When you eyed Chev suspiciously when he was rubbing himself against that old woman at the race track, I thought I was watching an old Buster Keaton film or something. You didn’t need words; your face was like a book. A large print one that comes with its own audiobook.

Why am I calling you? Well, I just thought that, as your close friend and confidant, I have to tell you that you should go into acting full time. Every second you’re not on a film screen is, quite frankly, an affront to God, and you don’t want to make God mad, do you? What? Well, I guess you’d have to give up being in Linkin Park. Yeah, it’s going well at the moment, but awful, whiny nu-metal crap can’t last forever, and can you really deny the world your gift? Have you learned nothing from all those Gus Van Sant films? Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, Elephant. What do they all have in common? They are about people who were doing one thing when they should have been following their dreams, be they math, writing, or shooting up a school. That could be you, Chester! You could be the man now, dog. You could be the man. [dramatic pause]Now, dog. Chester, are you still there? Oh, you’ve got to go and call your lawyer about a restraining order? Hey, that’s cool, man, do what you’ve got to do. Remember, start acting and stop making music. Please, please stop making music. Bye.

I don't know the scientific explanation, but electricity made him taller

At one point in the film, Chev chases down Johnny Vang (Art Hsu) at a power plant. During their fight, Chev is kicked into a pylon, which causes him to turn into a Godzilla-sized version of himself to finish the fight with Johnny Vang. Afterwards, he reverts to his normal self, seemingly unaffected by what has just occurred.

Now, since the film didn’t come with a “do not try this at home” warning, or at least I didn’t see one, I’m going to go and try this out. It sounds pretty cool. It’s not like Jackass or anything. It’s not like this sort of thing could be stupid or dangerous, otherwise why would they put it in the film? I’ll get back to you guys let you know how it turns out.

[Time passes.]

Hello, this is Ed’s sister, Emma. I’ve been going through his stuff and I found that this was the last thing he wrote on his laptop. Reading this back, it suddenly puts his actions into context.

As I’m sure you’ve all seen on the news, Ed threw himself onto a pylon. We didn’t know why until reading this, but at least we now know what he set out to accomplish. And, as I’m sure you’re all aware, he succeeded. After hitting the pylon, he grew to a height of several hundred feet and, disoriented started to rampage through the city. Worst of all, he’s been really antsy about the fact that his fingers are now too big for him to hit the keys, so I’ve had to finish the column for him. We’ve been at a loss as to how to stop him, but reading this back, in seems like the only way to get him back to normal is for him to win a fight, so we’re going to lure him over to Japan. They say that Mothra is free next week, so hopefully he’ll be back to his normal height by then, assuming that he doesn’t get roped into fighting MechaEd.