Crank Shaft

Crank, I am assured, is American street slang for methamphetamine, making it the perfect title, never mind prerequisite, for this blistering action movie which takes us through the last day on earth of an ex-pat British hit-man. Jason Statham, who has made a career out of these tough-guy chase movies following The Transporter, plays British hit-man Chev Chelios, who wakes up on the day in question with a bit of a problem. Local Chicano gangster Ricky Verona has taken umbrage with Chev eliminating a Chinese drug runner, and has administered a dose of ‘Beijing’ poison while he slept. According to the DVD message Verona leaves behind, Chev only has hours to live and there is no antidote. Already struggling, our anti-hero makes a run for it, believing there must be some way to stay alive or at least exact an excruciating revenge on his tormentors. His medical pal Dr Miles (a deliciously sleazy Dwight Yoakam) is stuck on an airplane, but tells him that the only way to keep breathing is to maintain the adrenaline level in his body until he can attend to him. Cue deliberately dangerous manoeuvres on Chev’s part as he screeches around LA, with the requirement to stay buzzed matched by the desire to avenge his own death. Meanwhile, the army of gangsters are furiously trying to finish the job, Chev’s pot-smoking surf-girl girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) is along for her own safety and the cannon-fodder cops are closing the dragnet, following the eye of the hurricane.

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.


Anonymous said...

Crank What Load Of Crap Without a doubt worst film I've seen in a long long time.

Jake Cali said...

For someone to say that CRANK is not good, they must be a natural hater... or haven't seen it! CRANK is simply AWESOME. You are so right and mr. anonymous is so wrong. CRANK A+

Brian Stapleton said...

Crank is the kind of movie I never thought I'd see in the cinema again. Absolutely brilliant. More like this please!