CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE (2009)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Frenetic Strong Bloody Violence throughout, Crude and Graphic Sexual Content, Nudity and Pervasive Language

Crank2 poster

Directed by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

Written by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam, Reno Wilson, Clifton Collins Jr., Bai Ling, Art Hsu & David Carradine

2006’s CRANK seems like one of the last action movies that would ever receive a sequel. The whole premise of that film was a dying hitman spending the last hour of his life on a violent quest for revenge. Spoiler for CRANK: it ended with the main character falling 3,000 feet out of a helicopter. How could a second installment possibly happen? Directors/writers Neveldine/Taylor explained in an interview: “He just fell out of a helicopter. He’s pissed.” That’s pretty much the only reason that you need because CRANK 2 doesn’t play by your silly laws of physics, logic, and mortality. Instead, it follows Chev Chelios on another over-the-top, bullet-filled adventure with a ticking clock…with mixed results.

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After falling from a helicopter, Chev Chelios is scraped up off the road by a Chinese gang. Months pass and Chev wakes up to find himself being harvested for organs in a black market hospital. With a cheap artificial heart running his body, Chev escapes and begins a desperate hunt for his missing ticker. With two rival gangs on his tail and saddled with the constant task of keeping his artificial heart electrically charged, Chev has his work cut out for him. As we’ve seen thus far though, Chev is pretty much an immortal bad-ass, so we’re sure his journey will be laced with blood, bullets, and chaos.

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CRANK 2 suffers from the typical sequel syndrome of trying to one-up its predecessor, while simultaneously duplicating the qualities that made the first film a hit. The good thing about this is the batshit insanity of the original is back and given a healthy dose of PCP. This is essentially Jason Statham starring in a coked up, blood-soaked Looney Tunes cartoon with some T&A thrown in for good measure. It’s nuts…to say the least. The film frequently halts its narrative to indulge in some serious WTF moments. Specific examples include an imaginary talk show featuring a childhood Chelios and a Godzilla fight sequence between a giant Chev and a giant Triad thug.

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The bad thing about CRANK 2 is that it shoves forced, unnecessary connections to the first film down the viewer’s throat. We don’t necessarily need to keep seeing flashbacks to remind us that CRANK exists and this is a sequel to that film. Besides including this annoying filler, Neveldine/Taylor desperately duplicate specific scenes from the first film with slightly more chaos thrown into the mix this time around. Instead of two rival gangs shooting at each other on a rooftop, we get four warring groups in a firefight around a pool. Amy Smart and Jason Statham are also forced to have sex in public again…but in a stadium full of cheering onlookers. Instead of having to keep his adrenaline up to bait off a poison, Chev now has to keep his artificial heart charged with electricity. The only recreation of a scene from the original film that truly worked was a bullet gag taken to a darkly humored extreme (which got a big laugh out of me). The rest of these moments felt somewhat forced and unneeded.

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As Chev Chelios, Jason Statham is officially back in manic mode. Even though this sequel isn’t on the same level as the first film, it’s still cool to see this bad-ass action star be in on the joke that the CRANK series is not supposed to be taken seriously in any way whatsoever. On the supporting side of things, Amy Smart feels wasted and was merely included because she was in the first film. The rest of the supporting cast aren’t exactly memorable either. Efren Ramirez (Pedro from NAPOLEON DYNAMITE) and Bai Ling star as two new sidekicks to Chelios with their own subplots, neither of which is interesting or all that enjoyable to watch. The only entertaining side character is Clifton Collins, Jr. as violent gangster El Huron, but he doesn’t receive the screen time he deserves as the over-the-top villain.

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CRANK 2 isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but this sequel remains a pale imitation of CRANK with a WTF factor thrown in to compensate for quality. It’s obvious that Neveldine/Taylor wanted to replicate the insanity from the first film, but this sequel simply doesn’t function in the way they probably wanted it to. I had fun watching CRANK 2, but I don’t think I’d ever sit through it again…unlike the first film. If you’re a fan of the first CRANK, I tepidly recommend this second installment to you. Don’t go in expecting much and you should walk away relatively satisfied. CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE is that kind of movie.

Grade: B-

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