Monday, April 20, 2009

Movie Review: Crank: High Voltage

Crank: High Voltage no stars
Directed by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor.
Written By: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor.
Starring: Jason Statham (Chev Chelios), Amy Smart (Eve), Dwight Yoakam (Doc Miles), Efren Ramirez (Venus), Reno Wilson (Orlando), Keone Young (Don Kim), Art Hsu (Johnny Vang), Joseph Julian Soria (Chico), Ling Bai (Ria), Clifton Collins Jr. (El Huron), David Carradine (Poon Dong), Corey Haim (Randy), Geri Halliwell (Karen Chelios), Billy Unger (Young Chev).

I almost feel like simply reprinting the review I wrote for the original Crank in 2006 rather than wasting time writing a new review for its sequel, as this is essentially the same damn film as the first one. The lone exception being what is going our “hero” Chev Chelios. In the original film, he needed to keep the adrenaline pumping or risk dying. In this film, he needs to keep his body electrified at all times or his artificial heart will stop beating. He needs to do this until he can get back his real heart from some rather nasty characters, and then hope that his low rent doctor (Dwight Yoakam) can put his heart back in.

Now, I could call the film ludicrous, but then what would be the point of that? The filmmakers know that their film in no way resembles reality – and are in fact proud of that. And certainly, when we’re dealing with action films, reality isn’t really, and shouldn’t really, be a concern. Some of the best action movies ever are just as crazily unbelievable as this movie. Besides, that’s not the reason why I hate the Crank movies.

I hate the Crank movies because they are such hateful films. They are films that trade on the basest, most offensive of stereotypes. Like the original film, in the sequel we are treated to mindless, simplistic stereotypes about Latino gangsters, black gangsters, Chinese gangsters, not to mention women and gay people. What are we to make of a scene where in order to provide Chev’s body with friction, thus generating static electricity, his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart), strips down and fucks him, in many different positions, in the middle of a race track as the horses jump over their writing bodies? Smart, a good looking, somewhat talented actress, spends almost the entire movie topless – we are introduced to her as she grinds away on a stripper pole, and perhaps that’s her most flattering scene. In the original film, she allowed herself to be bent over a mailbox and screwed on a crowded street in Chinatown as the audience cheered. This film takes its misogyny to an entirely new level.

But I think that’s exactly what the filmmakers wanted to do. At every step along the way in Crank: High Voltage, they seem to be trying to outdo the original. If anything, this film is even more rapidly cut, even more incoherent. It’s even louder and dumber than the original. What I don’t get is why so many critics seem to fall for this crap. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film has 70% positive reviews. What the hell were these critics watching? What I saw was vile and disgusting. It’s doesn’t matter if the movie is so over the top you cannot take it seriously, I just don’t really find anything in this movie worth praising. I suppose one has to give the filmmakers credit for so closely sticking to their “vision”. This is certainly not a film where studio interference seems to have been a problem. I just couldn’t help but sit in the theater and wonder what making the film was like for someone like Smart – who is so clearly just used as a piece of meat in the movie, and is little more than just tits and ass to the audience. When she was naked and grinding away on top on Jason Statham in front of that crowd, did she realize just how little the filmmakers respected her? For all the talk in the last few weeks about the misogyny in Observe and Report, no one has mentioned anything about it in Crank: High Voltage. Anna Faris maybe be playing a mindless slut in Observe and Report, but at least the filmmakers and Faris realize it – and are merciless in their portrayal of a certain type of woman. I think that everyone involved with Crank: High Voltage – and the critics who have praised it – just think of it all as mindless fun. And I find that disgusting.

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