Hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up in his home, feeling unwell. He stumbles around, eventually making his way to the television set. On it is a DVD, which shows him that he’s been injected with a poison, one that acts on his adrenal gland. Within the hour, he is told, his body will shut down, leaving him dead. The man behind the poisoning is Ricky Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), who is punishing Chev for performing a hit on the leader of the Chinese mafia.
Chev makes his way to his car, and begins driving. He phones a couple of people. First is his girlfriend (Amy Smart), who isn’t there. Second, he calls his friend, Kaylo (Efren Ramirez), who will locate Verona so that Chev can kill him. Third, (although it would have been my first choice), he calls his doctor (Dwight Yoakam). He’s told that the best way he can stay alive is to keep a constant flow of adrenaline, because it will keep the poison from working on his heart. Or something like that. It doesn’t really matter. All that we care about is that it’s an excuse to have an all-out action film.
That is exactly what we get, although I’m not sure that the word “fun” can describe it. There are definitely some fun moments, but a lot of the film is simply gross or depraved. That doesn’t stop it from being entertaining, but it’s not always a fun watch. There are moments where I actually wanted to look away such as a moment when a man’s hand gets caught in a sewing machine. The film is, at times, really disgusting, although I suppose that could appeal to some people, so for those people, they’ve got something to look forward to, I suppose.
For most of the film though, we watch Jason Statham go from place to place, doing crazy things at each locale, before moving on to the next one. He encounters some interesting people, takes a lot of drugs, swears a lot, and has a bunch of action scenes. That’s really the best way to describe this film, and is also just about all that there is to it. It’s a simple concept with a basic execution that is ultimately a slight bit less enjoyable than it should be.
The action scenes, for how often they occur, are actually quite creative. There are a lot of electronics scattered throughout, all of which used in unconventional ways. There are also a few interesting driving scenes, and some boring gunfights. It’s mixed, but mostly entertaining and unique. And since the action scenes dominate the film — seriously, 90% of the movie can probably be considered an action scene — having a few that are more conventional is okay in my eyes.
The plot, which is incredibly basic, does try to trick you with a late twist. If you’ve seen a revenge thriller before — and yes, one will probably be enough — then you’ll get the twist before the film tells you. But then the twist is kind of ignored anyway, only really serving to give another big bad for Chev to shoot at in the film’s climax.
The best thing about Crank, apart from the fact that it doesn’t give you a moment to breathe, is that it’s quite funny. Chev is a character that we grow to like, despite all of the deplorable things that he does to himself and others, and part of his charm is how he doesn’t take anything too seriously. Even though his life is at stake here, he finds the time to joke around with both his allies and enemies. I was laughing early and often, even if the humor does kind of dry up by the end.
For a low budget film, (for a film like this, $12 million is low budget), there are quite a few special effects throughout. It’s unfortunate that they’re not very good, and you can easily tell when CGI is being used. The directors, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, tried to hide it by not ever giving us a clear shot of scenes that use CGI, but they weren’t fooling me.
Speaking of hiding the special effects, the camera work was often quite poor. There are far too many close-ups, shaky-cam usage, quick cuts and overall distracting camerawork. I have a feeling that this was done to make sure that the budget was the reason for this, forcing the directors to make sure that we can’t ever see everything that’s going on. Or maybe it’s just because of a lack of talent, I’m not sure, but with the amount of stuff going on throughout, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt here.
But I don’t think that any of the film’s problems are going to matter to the people who want to watch this film. Those people are going to want to watch an action film that doesn’t give you much opportunity to catch your breath, and that’s what you’ll get here. If you’re not wanting that though, and instead want a character focused revenge thriller, you’ll want to look elsewhere, because this isn’t a film with deep characters or an interesting plot.
At the very least, Crank gives you a solid reason for its lead character to be put through action scene after action scene. I’m thankful for that, and since I had a good enough time while watching it, I’m willing to forgive most of its flaws. It’s not a film with good characters, special effects, plot or cinematography, but is instead a film that has relentless action that is occasionally offensive. I say watch it if that’s what you want from a film, because it will entertain you.