A twitchy thrill ride with large dashes of charm and invention added to the high-octane mix, Crank is a superior action movie that only occasionally stops to think about what it is itself describing, making it the perfect entertainment for these attention deficit times. The grim-set Statham and his co-directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine have fashioned an extraordinary punk rock action movie, one of the best of its kind in a long time, which unleashes extraordinary havoc on the screen. An instant classic of the unstoppable, one-man-army genre that takes its cues as much from Rambo and The Terminator as it does MTV and Duke Nukem, this is a light-speed paced juggernaut of vandalism and obscenity that is as thrilling as it is exhausting. The admirable stunt work and towering body count aside, the film adds layers of finesse to the mayhem by constantly changing direction and focus, cutting away to the inside of Chev’s body as the adrenaline kicks in, or the nightclub memories in the mind’s eye of his cross-dressing sidekick Kalo (Effren Ramirez).
For a film with a super-flashy visual style it’s interesting that the majority of the action is physically executed in camera; notable throughout is the lack of wire-work or digital trickery. Statham will never play Hamlet, but this is nevertheless a powerhouse performance, the effort of which is etched all over his granite face. It helps that the script is packed full of ear-catching dialogue and the soundtrack is relentless. Crank is also brilliantly photographed, with a heart-shredding pace established from the opening 8-bit credit sequence taken from old video games, the constantly mobile camera and the inventive and often surprising editing. Chev’s precarious condition means he has to pit-stop along the way, at a corner shop for a whole shelf of energy drinks, at a strip-club for a wrap of cocaine (inhaled off the floor of the gents) and best of all, at a hospital for a shot of something to keep him going that kick-starts a long chase sequence that culminates in a highly-charged encounter with a defibrillator. Crank is fiercely told, violent and crude and occasionally surreally funny, but it is bedlam throughout, pure unfettered madness really, and because of that a hugely entertaining popcorn adventure.