Saturday, 25 April 2009

Crank 2 : High Voltage


Written & Directed by: Neveldine/Taylor
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efran Ramirez & Dwight Yoakam

The original Crank was a wild ride into hard boiled weirdness and action overload as Chev Chelios (Statham) ran frantically around LA trying to keep himself alive with adrenaline to stop the poison from running through his veins killing him. Fast, funny, kooky and more than a little un-PC, Crank turned the action movie on its head gleefully embracing the notion that if it is highly implausible then lets do it. Well the sequel makes the original look like a normal, straight forward film. As mainstream cinema begins to once again push the boundaries of on screen violence, High Voltage pushes the realms of plausibility, everything that is un-PC and ample amounts of excessive violence up and well and truly through the stratosphere. It’s also a right ruddy hoot.

After falling from a helicopter and bouncing of a car at the end of Crank, Chev Chelios is in fact not dead at all, despite everything to the contrary suggesting otherwise. High Voltage kicks off pretty much where the original left off with Chev scooped up off the ground by some Triad gangsters, whisked away and in a disgusting but extremely funny sequence has his heart taken out and replaced with an artificial one. Three months later he wakes up, gets pissed and goes looking for his real heart which has become a hot property on the black market organ field, having thwarted off the deadly Chinese poison from the first flick. When the end of your first flick climaxes with the protagonist falling from a helicopter and bouncing off a car and presumably dying and then you are asked to make a sequel with the same said character, then quite rightly the only way you can go is the way High Voltage does: push everything to the max, cram in every insane idea you have (as its pretty much got to be insane after your main character falls from a helicopter and bounces off a car: and lives!) and pour on oodles and oodles of violence and filthy fun. Writers/producers/directors, Neveldine/Taylor do just this, giving their wicked character another 90 mins or so of screen life to strut about, cause chaos and shock himself with everything imaginable in order to keep his heart going.

The punk action filmmakers Neveldine/Taylor were obviously given free reign to do what they wanted and High Voltage plays like a collection of all the stuff they weren’t allowed to do in Crank mark 1. Their blitzkrieg off snazzy camerawork and whiplash editing propels the movie which is buoyed by an assortment of rude and crude characters straight out of an adult rated comic book. Not only do pretty much all the characters of the original reappear at some point there is whole bevy of new increasingly mad characters including Bai Ling’s barmy Asian stereotype hooker who takes a shine to Chelios, Corey Haim playing a hilarious, mulleted douche bag (yes, Corey Haim!) and David Carradine as, well, it’s best you just see for yourself. Hell, Geri Halliwell is even in there at one point. What the!? Despite all the craziness and the mounting array of weirdoes it’s Statham as Chelios who still owns the movie. The Crank films have allowed him to remain his bad ass action self but also flex his comedy muscles as the near indestructible anti-hero. Make no bones about it, Chelios is a bad man but he is the most identifiable human in amongst the cavalcade of crazies. Well, when he is not attaching jumper cables to his nipples, having Godzilla hallucinations in the middle of a fist fight (has to be seen to be believed!) and shoving shotguns up people’s arses.

About as un-PC as it can get, at least in mainstream cinema, High Voltage leaves no stone unturned in its onslaught of racial abuse (and no-one is left out), al fresco sex practices, body parts being severed and in your face violence. Neveldine/Taylor thankfully keep it just the right side of trying too hard (just!) as the momentum rarely stops for you to realize what you have actually just seen or heard and they work in an alarming amount of funny sight gags often in the middle of an action scene. Hilarious in the most offensive way, the directors work in as many laughs as they do insane action scenes not least a scene where they practically stop the film to do a gag about what happened to the hospital orderly from the first film that had to juice Chelios with a defibrillator. Hilarious and completely bonkers.

But they haven’t forgotten about the action either. Crank suffered a little from the pace slowing now and again but High Voltage gets the adrenaline pumping with almost continuous action as Chelios takes out people like he is walking around in a video game. They also keep the camera whirling and twirling through the action helping to sustain the sensation of madness and even stage a ridiculous shootout in the back of a limo. The violence is ratcheted up with blood (and silicone implants) spurting here, there and everywhere and Statham spends pretty much the whole film, well, running.

High Voltage is as barmy as it gets but that is what makes it so great. It’s unlikely you will see anything else quite like it in the action movie world and Chev Chelios is such a great character it would be great to see him come back for one more go around. I can’t begin to list the amount of awesome scenes in High Voltage (the dog collar bit; the tazor/lesbian stripper bit; Corey Haim’s t-shirt and hair; every bit with Bai Ling) as for the lack of a better word everything is: awesome. Don’t go see it if you are at all offended by nudity, extreme violence, very un-PC comedy and if you at all get upset by there not being enough “plot”. If you don’t go and see it, you will be missing out on one very funny, action packed ride that tops its predecessor in every way. Roll on Neveldine/Taylor’s next film, Game.

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