R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Neveldine/Taylor
with Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Efren Ramirez, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Carlos Sanz, Reno Wilson, Edi Gathegi, Glenn Howerton, Jay Xcala, Keone Young, Valarie Rae Miller
release US/UK 1.Sep.06
06/US Lionsgate 1h23

Pump me up, doc: Yoakam and Statham

statham smart yoakam

See also:
Crank Merrily refusing to compromise on any level, filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor rocket through this thriller with so much energy and personality that we just hang on for the ride. And it's so much fun we don't want it to end.

Hitman Chev Chelios (Statham) wakes up to a message that the vicious Verona (Cantillo) has injected him with a Chinese poison that'll kill him within an hour. So Chev heads off on a rampage of revenge and desperation. Only adrenaline keeps him alive, so he needs to stay rather over-excited. His girlfriend (Smart) knows nothing about his real job, and is having trouble grasping the truth. His doctor (Yoakam) can only keep him going for so long. His gangster boss (Sanz) seems strangely unconcerned. And Chev has to keep moving.

This film is a rush of action with heavy doses of wit. Not only doesn't the story pause for breath, but the film never censors itself, filling the screen with violence that's outrageously gruesome and sexuality that feels rather offensive--although the misogyny and homophobia are undercut by Statham's hilariously over-the-top homoeroticism (plus Ramirez's sympathetic cross-dressing informant). Basically, the film unfurls at a Looney Tunes pace, with frantically deranged energy, hysterical comical touches in every scene, inventive visual flourishes and gonzo stuntwork.

Statham dives fearlessly into the role, which requires him to wear only a hospital gown for about a third of the film (complete with, presumably, a ridiculous prosthesis). Despite being pumped-up and fiercely tough, he subtly undermines the film's overwhelming machismo with his soulful approach to the character. While everyone around him has enough personal quirks to keep us gripped--Smart's oblivious sweetness is straight from Mr Magoo; Yoakam's whizzy expertise is like Dr House on speed.

Along the way, Neveldine/Taylor drag us through so many wild action set pieces that we lose count. There's the shopping mall car chase, the naked motorbike ride, the Chinatown sex show, the meat cleaver, waffle iron and sewing machine, and the big helicopter finale. It revels in its crazed B-movie vibe, and as a result we can't help but enjoy every ludicrous minute.

cert 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality, drugs 11.Aug.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Crank Fast Eddie, Baltimore, Md: 4.5/5 "It was great Non-Stop Action, a Brutal Violent Movie, Everybody in the Movie was great. Go see it!" (26.Aug.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall