Gamer is now in theaters, but if you don't want to waste your hard-earned cash on over-the-top drivel, Lionsgate is releasing Crank 2: High Voltage - from the same writing and directing team - on DVD this Tuesday. The original Crank was an intentionally ridiculous, cracked-out mess, and with audiences already expecting such a thing from the sequel, Crank 2 is the magnum opus of insanity. That may or may not be a good thing.
Crank 2 once again stars Jason Statham as Chev Chelios, who we last saw plummeting to his death from several thousand feet above Los Angeles. The sequel picks up where the last one left off, as Chev slams into a car and bounces onto a street, not quite dead. Then, a van pulls up, grabs him and removes his heart for the black market. To harvest his other organs, they put in an electronic heart to keep him alive - and that's just a sign of what's to come in a movie built on absurdity. Chev escapes, but his temporary heart is failing, so he has to run around recharging himself on everything from power lines to old women, all while avoiding plenty of bad guys looking to take him out once and for all.
To review this film is unnecessary: if you liked the first movie, you'll probably like Crank 2; and if not, well, you should avoid it at all costs. I didn't like the first movie, but was morbidly curious about the sequel: Statham is always fun to watch, and as bad as Crank was, it was mildly refreshing to see the filmmakers embrace such craziness with angst and enthusiasm. Crank 2 is a wilder, weirder and crazier version of the original, and there's some charm to it. I'm generally a fan of more serious and realistic action flicks, but there's something appealing about the way Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor accost the audience at every step with rock music, insane characters, absurd plot twists and just about everything else. "Let's just have some fun and see if you can keep up," seems to be their motto, and on some rudimentary level, that motto pays off. The highlight of the movie is seeing Chev, desperate for static electric, screwing his stripper girlfriend, played by the gorgeous Amy Smart, in the middle of a horse race track during an actual race with thousands of people watching. In another scene, we see a gigantic Chev (Statham wears a deformed caricature mask of himself) fighting a villain against a backdrop of cheesy miniatures and wooden figurines. Everything is fair game in Crank 2.
When all is said and done, though, Crank 2 isn't a movie that you can really recommend to anyone. The farthest I'd go would be to say that you should watch a few minutes of this movie just to see how silly it is, with expectations that morbid curiosity would force the person to watch the entire 90 minutes. But to say Crank 2 kicks ass, or that it rocks, or that's it good, or that it has awesome action scenes, or that it is hilarious, would be making things up. Crank 2: High Voltage has its moments - it's like one long acid trip, after all - but it's not a movie you really need to watch or want to watch. It's like craning your neck to see a dead body at a car crash on the side of the freeway: you know it's there, you're curious to see it, perhaps even almost compelled to see it, but when you do, it isn't nearly as satisfying.
If you liked the first Crank, Crank 2 is better, but if you're in the vast majority, this is one you can avoid. If you must, give it a few minutes to see what it's like and go from there.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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