Ah, there’s nothing like a bit of ballsy, brawny bedlam to get your juices flowing. Crank is an unrepentant, exuberant actioner, crammed with foulmouthed mayhem, gratuitous nudity and thumping basslines, shot in a breathless, MTV-to-the-max style that doesn’t give you a second’s pause to realise just how bleeding ludicrous it all is.
The plot’s part Speed, part ’50s flick DOA, part Grand Theft Auto... but it’s all basically just an excuse to drive Chelios (Statham) into ever more dangerous situations in search of the adrenaline rush to keep his heart a-thumping. In the course of a snappy 83 minutes, he graduates from dangerous driving to gun battles with the cops, from snorting cocaine off a toilet floor to mainlining epinethrine in a hospital elevator, from bare arsed motorcycle stunt riding to shagging in a very public place...
Just when you think it’s about to start taking itself seriously, Crank rockets off in ever more ludicrous directions. But that’s its charm. Writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor haven’t so much graduated from commercials as tried to drag the feature film down to their level. It’s all short-burst, fast-cut episodic stuff, with every frame bulging with half-formed ideas, smart-arsed CGI and raw energy. These guys wouldn’t know polish if you clubbed them to the ground with a can of Mr Sheen, but they could write the book on passion.
But for all that, Crank wouldn’t work without Jason Statham (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels). Battered, weary, wisecracking and astoundingly, viciously lethal, he’s the working class angel of death cinema has been missing since Bruce Willis decided he was going to morph into a dreary John Wayne clone. He’s not great with dialogue, but that rolling-shouldered juggernaut stride and those “Why is this shit happening to me?” eyes are worth a thousand words.
This is far too niche to draw in the big crowds and it won’t end up being Statham’s Die Hard, but Crank is still one of this summer’s purest ‘guilty pleasure’ movies.