I urge readers to read more on this story and play the very short podcast which accompanies this review of Crank, one of the most ludicrously entertaining films I have seen in years. Done that? Yes, the picture is bigger too (German poster, much better than the UK one). Right then, lets begin.
Crank rewards you for watching it, in many gratuitous ways. The usual rewards of an action film are all present and correct, violence, a very linear plot and lots of bullshit machismo. But Crank rewards like a video-game too, with internal power-ups and new ways of doing things every couple of minutes. It rewards cinematically with an intertextual borrowing of plenty of memes and sequences from other films, but it also rewards by making you laugh at its own audacity. And yet the two-headed directors never let off on the internal reality of the film, that at its (often visible) heart it is a doomed, tragic love story with Chinese poison and guns. A bad man whose last grab at redemption has come just that little bit too late.
Jason Statham owns these type of roles and films too now. He has managed to graduate from the comic gangster styling of Guy Ritchie into much harder films, whilst bringing along a lightness to his hardmen which make otherwise irredeemable characters sympathetic. He’s never played a cop, it would not work, but he can play the criminal with doubts, the honourable crook. He also does frustrated very well. Considering he is in every scene here, and has to play from on the verge of death to a hyper-adrenelised rampaging beast, he does a terrific job. Is it range, for this kind of film it is.
So with the ridiculous plot, the bizarre trail he leads through LA and the relentless pace, what really marks this out as a special piece of work. Directors Neveldine/Taylor throw everything at the screen. To start off with you worry about Tony Scott style overkill. But their style is better than Scott, lighter, cleverer – full of bizarrely entertaining non-sequiturs. We’ve seen Statham’s heart, let’s see a pigeon heart. Exactly why are rutting tortoises projected in the background of a scene? From its ludicrous start to its ludicrous end, they have one job, to entertain. And if you were going to die if you heart rate went down, there would be no better film to see.
(Oh and Amy Smart: not given much to do but with this and the Butterfly Effect under her belt, she is the queen of the current entertaining B-movies.)