2006 was a fantastic year in cinema. And I am not talking about the Academy Awards or anything. Truth be told, I can’t even think of one single movie that was nominated for anything that year… and I am pretty on top of that shit.
No, I am talking about the year that brought us Wayne Kramer’s chaotic Paul Walker vehicle, Running Scared, and also the film-making team of Neveldine/Taylor and their frenzied Crank. These two movies were out to prove that R-rated action extravaganzas didn’t have to have $200 million budgets. They just need a little vulgarity, ridiculousness, nudity, violence, and a significant body count to keep the interest flowing.
And they both do it pretty fucking well – Crank especially. If you haven’t seen this film by now (you fucking loser), we follow Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) as he runs around Los Angeles looking for an antidote to something called the Beijing Cocktail. Apparently some low-level thugs injected him with it and the only way he can stay alive is by keeping his adrenaline levels on the high.
So he kills people, drives cars through malls, fucks, shoots more people, cuts a dude hand off, yells, breaks a tv I’m too poor to afford, etc. And for as ridiculous as this movie sounds, it’s actually a really well-made film to boot.
For example, in some movies, people go swimming. A cut or two later, the characters are instantly dry. Or they are made to look wet but they really aren’t. There is a part in Crank where Chelios jumps into a pool, yells at some dude, then gets out. He is dripping wet as he gets out of the pool, walks down a hall, keeps walking – cut after glorious cut – and then finally makes his way out of the building, still dripping wet.
This movie couldn’t be further from plausible yet it also has the balls to rock continuity’s asshole?
Even the camera shots are glorious. And all this (and more) was done with a modest budget.
On top of that, the film did have a few real moments. He is in love with a girl, played by Amy Smart, who is as ditzy as a dodo bird on crack. Dwight Yoakam plays his doctor to a pretty serious degree, and even delivers the best (and perhaps most serious) line in the whole film, “You’re a good dude.” In context with the movie, it’s pretty fucking touching. It was these semi-serious moments that kept the film grounded. They sort of made you care about these characters way more than you should. This is what made this film work so well.
At the end, however, Chev falls out of a helicopter and (fake) dies.
I didn’t want this to end. I wanted him to get up and deliver more havoc. Sometimes, dreams really do come true. Only they turn into nightmares.
The lady and I went to a midnight screening of Crank: High Voltage at a drive-in movie theater in Tampa called Funland. If any movie was made for a drive-in, it’d be a Jason Statham movie. I had high-low hopes for this movie. Because how can they fuck up this formula?
Today’s History Lesson (4/2009)
They can fuck it up by not giving a shit about it. High Voltage is everything Crank wasn’t and much more. Gone is any shred of caring for the audience. Calling this movie over-the-top doesn’t define it enough. It’s shocking for shock sake – that’s it. It was made for a laugh, not for a purpose. It somehow makes all the characters you loved in the first one giant pieces of annoying shit. I hated Chelios and the Doctor within the first act.
Even the filmmaking techniques were a huge downgrade from the first one. I’m not saying the first film was Citizen Kane or anything, but at least they had something there. This film was probably made because Neveldine/Taylor’s last film came and went from theaters without anyone on the Earth seeing the fucking thing. So they needed some quick bread for their next feature.
If they did indeed need that, however, why not just try and make a good movie again?
But as far as moneymaking sequels go, this film is still a shit load better than, say, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But that’s like saying your leaking hemerroid is better than mine.
Please do not let this be the beginning of an awful movie summer. And let’s hope Crank 3-D is better than this…
Perhaps my hopes were too high. Maybe I will like this movie better upon further evaluation. Time will only tell.