Crank

Crank (2006) movie poster

(2006) dir. Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
viewed: 01/09/07

This movie is either pure trash or pure genius.  Okay, that’s one way of looking at it.  It’s actually neither, but it’s also a combination of the two.  The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Neva Chonin summed this film up by describing it thusly: “Cross D.O.A. (1950) with Speed (1994), add lots of carnage, and you’ve got Crank, a feature that’s more full-length video game than movie.”  Actually, I would say it’s more Run, Lola, Run (1998) than Speed but also with this whole “cranked-up” visual style and editing that is about as in your face as anything I have seen recently.

Jason Statham of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), and The Transporter (2002), awakens to find himself poisoned with a “Beijing Cocktail”, which is essentially some drug that will kill him when his adrenaline level goes too low.  It’s ridiculous, but it’s one of those movie premises that make great sense in terms of an action film and, really, that is what makes this movie work.

Featuring hyperbole upon hyperbole of radical action and bizarre nihilistic rampage, Statham races across Los Angeles in search of his “killer,” destroying and killing all over the place.  It’s actually somewhat funny the lengths his character goes to in order to keep his adrenaline running, from pumping drugs, guzzling Rock Star and Red Bull, riding a police motorcycle standing up with his eyes closed and no hands while wearing only shoes and a hospital gown, and having sex with his girlfriend on a crowded street in the city’s Chinatown.  It’s all loopy and over the top of over the topness, and it varies drastically between working and failing, but the whole thing moves so fast that you don’t really dwell on anything either.

The visual style and editing annoyed the hell out of me from the beginning, and it either mellowed out or I got used to it.  Some of it was clever and funny, but mostly it ranged from all kinds of visual disjunctures: freeze frames, text on screen, strange quick-moving dissolves.  As a whole, it’s a mess, but it’s a fun mess, fun enough, anyways.  And there is something interesting about the film’s portrait of Los Angeles, populated by Asians and Latinos, and broadly trounced by the protagonist.

Something as well about the lengths that Statham’s character allows himself in knowing his imminent death, completely without any regard for anyone in the world, yet not utterly hedonistic, mainly because it is a joyless, relentless run of revenge, not a passion for life.

Oh yeah, and Dwight Yoakam is in it, playing this shabby doctor.  I love Dwight.

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