Crank — as in the highly potent and highly agitating street drug, as in cranked up, as in dizzying cuts and swoops with the camera to replicate a disorienting strung-out high followed by an even more disorienting and strung-out crash.
Actually, it begins with the crash. Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up feeling like death, which turns out to be just about right. According to a DVD left for him, he has been injected with poison and has about one hour left to live. But Chev is a guy who knows how to fill an hour. He needs to get his revenge, say goodbye to his girlfriend, and look very, very hard for a loophole.
And he has to do it at full speed. The poison he’s taken can be slowed down if he can keep his adrenaline pumping. You might think that just knowing you’ve been poisoned and racing around trying to find the guy who did it before it kicks in would be enough to keep the fight-or-flight juices going, but Chev finds a way to kick it up a notch with just about everything available, from cocaine to sex to defibrillator paddles and a waffle iron as he races around in real time, crashing his car through a shopping mall, trying to get a shot of epinephrine from a hospital, and knocking his girlfriend’s purse out of her hands so she won’t notice that he’s knocking off some baddies as she retrieves her keys and lipstick.
Statham’s coolness is always a treat to watch and the movie has some great set-pieces and action sequences. But it overdoes the gallows humor (okay, you slice a guy’s gun hand off with a meat cleaver, maybe the hand will still be on the gun when you pick it up, but do you have to keep it on while you shoot and then throw the hand at a guy?). Amy Smart brings a lovely slow vibe counterpoint as Chev’s warm-hearted but clueless girlfriend, even when she is called upon to participate in a bizarre sex scene in front of fascinated crowd inlcuding a schoolbus of girls in uniforms. Country star Dwight Yoakum is terrific as Chev’s unschockable doctor. But as the body count mounts up, the story runs out of ideas, and it goes from crank to crummy.
Parents should know that this movie has non-stop and very graphic and grisly violence. Not only is a man’s hand sliced off, the hand is still holding the gun when it is picked up, it gets thrown at someone, and it is later displayed on a table. There are guns and knives, car crashes, punches, head butts, and kicks, a guy gets thrown off a building, another guy gets tortured and killed, and of course the main character is poisoned. Characters drink, smoke, and abuse street and pharmaceutical drugs, and they use very strong and crude language, including the n-word (used humorously to refer to a white man). There are explicit sexual references and situations and sexual and non-sexual nudity.
Families who see this movie should talk about what their priorities would be if they had one hour to live.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the 1950 version of D.O.A., about a man who must solve his own murder before the poison kills him, and the 1988 remake with Dennis Quaid. They will also enjoy Speed, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch.