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