Movie Review: Crank

If I was asked to describe Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s Crank in one word, it would be “different”.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up dazed and confused before he sees a left-behind recording and gets a phone call from Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) confirming that Chelios has been poisoned with the Beijing cocktail, which inhibits the flow of adrenaline, slows the heart and eventually kills the victim.

If you’re someone who longs for immediate immersion in your films, you’ll enjoy the way this comes out of the gate. If you have become used to seemingly required backstory at the introduction of films, you may not be as fond of Crank.

I can appreciate both sides of the fence when it’s executed in the right manner. Crank is revving up the engine, which would be impressive if the engine wasn’t a bicycle in first gear, a gear that is great for exercising, not so much for going places.

Opening the door the way it does earns Crank some leeway, however, because Chelios doesn’t know anything either. It provides an audience-character parallel and to a certain point repairs early scars with duct tape. To an extent. This doesn’t forgive a complete lack of introductory outline or audience consideration.

The direction from Neveldine and Taylor emphasizes sharp edits and harsh, rapid cuts, giving visual adrenaline to complement a hurried story.

Shaky cam is a technique that should be used sparingly and viewed like mayonnaise. If you don’t want your serving to audiences to be void of taste, please limit the shaky cam. Shaky cam should be a condiment, not an overdressed salad. Matching the film’s shots to the tempo should not be prioritized over an audience’s ability to watch it, for obvious reasons.

The technicalities of apace film-making flaunted in Crank are oddly charming, however, and after displacing continual missteps from my memory bank, remained entertaining. The unorthodox style intrigues and smacks me in the face at the same time and for some reason, I was okay with that. Not sure why, but from an entertainment perspective, I felt the abrasive approach contributed to what Crank was trying to be…I think.

I’m not sure what Crank was trying to be. The scripting is like an elementary school student who proudly brings home an art project for his parents. He holds it up as he would a championship trophy and while his parents are happy for their son, they don’t have a clue what it’s supposed to be. To them and most everyone else, their son’s masterpiece looks like a mass of muck and pudding.

Which is not to say there isn’t anything worth cherishing in a youngster’s work. Quite the contrary. To continue my metaphor, imagine that same situation but the son is 30. Now you wonder how that guy’s going to make a living.

That’s what I was watching, a shapeless growth with little to no personality being presented as a final project, with no edges or indentations, just a blob of pictures. There’s no form to Crank. It just…is. Crank prioritized being a speedster flick so much, it flew by characters and plot, the pinnacles of story.

Jason Statham, bless his soul, has been struggling of late with the last few films I’ve reviewed, which you’ll see in next week’s round 2 of Winners And Losers (WAL). Crank has many of the same failings: poor story, buried characters and an overall experience that won’t let you breathe.

Crank‘s main failing is its inability to introduce supplementary characters to help Statham, a recurring problem in the Brit’s films. Producers and directors continue to give Statham inadequate material and sometimes even more inadequate actors to play opposite and alongside him, leaving Statham out to dry in the middle of the ocean for the umpteenth time. You would think these producers and directors would watch other Statham films before hiring the guy and think, “man, there’s no one helping Statham here at all. That was actually a pretty bad movie. I think I know how we can avoid that. Let’s get a second good actor for our film. Does anyone else think that’s a good idea? No? Ok, whatever.”

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it is a common phrase, one that many of Statham’s employers have not paid attention to as they continue to utilize the same inadequate actors and same substandard scripts as the producers and directors before them. People that learn nothing from the past and continue to make the same mistakes as their predecessors are known as morons and have no place in the industry, so yeah, you could say I’m pretty angry with Neveldine and Taylor. Stop leaving my man, Statham, out to dry!!!

Thankfully, I need not bemoan Statham’s role in Crank because he came to play with this one. Crank is not one of Statham’s better films and I’ll never recommend it, but I still consider this a W for Statham off the fact that the guy tries so hard to make this lousy script work. Characters cuss a lot more than they need to and coming from someone like me, that’s saying something because I don’t have the prettiest of mouths. Actually I guess I’m not that pretty to begin with but that’s beside the point. The point is that Statham, for all of this film’s 88-minute run time, is running all cylinders at full speed ahead. He’s got a zinger line here and there to deliver with that rasp of his and he does what he can with unambitious stunt choreography. Once again, Statham does what he’s forced to do on a regular basis: get on his knees, have a film placed on his shoulders and try to stand up and support it by himself. If the film was even halfway articulate, it might have been decent but it misfires too many times to put on a good show.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (InterstellarChappieAmerican BeautyGone GirlMulan)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (EquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. DeadSnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands Tall)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (BlitzThe PunisherDrive HardRun All NightRage)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Crank: 46.

Disorganized, choppy and needlessly vulgar at points, Crank tries too hard to separate itself from the masses and instead becomes a mass itself. Statham adds one to the win column with his spontaneous protagonist but while Crank exceeds in the visual department at times, it cannot escape Shaky Cam Syndrome, blank acting and an eye-drooping plot.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Crank

  1. Dan O. says:

    So nuts, but also pretty fun. Nice review.

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