Monday, February 18, 2008

Remembering Crank

It is an old plot structure really: A man who has very little time left to live sets out to make things right before he dies. Whether it is from a debilitating disease, poison, an injury or even karma, these kinds of stories do occupy a place amongst a wide variety of genres, but have found the warmest, and let's be honest, bloodiest home in the mystery/action/thriller section.

Case in point, Crank.

In Crank, hitman Chev Chelios, played by action stalwart Jason Statham, was drugged and given a Beijing Cocktail which will supposedly kill him in an hour by making his heart slow down and stop by inhibiting his adrenaline receptors.

To combat these effects and stay alive long enough to have his revenge against the gang who did this to him, Chelios must keep his adrenaline flowing by putting himself in dangerous situations and doing various other activities that will get his heart racing. From driving dangerously and antagonizing policemen and gang members to taking drugs and causing general mayhem wherever he goes. In fact, there are very few things Chelios won't do to stay alive within reason. And with some bloody revenge on the menu, it is sort of fun watching him work.

The filmmakers behind Crank sort of made an implicit agreement with the audience, that yes, while it wouldn't be John Woo, it would still be entertaining if you were looking for a certain level of frenetic violence, sex and insane stunts in your movie viewing experience. The background of Co-directors/writers Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine is sort of freaky, as they each have a lot of experience doing a lot of different work in Hollywood over the past decade. There is stunt work, sound work, cinematography, acting, visual effects on their collective resume, so they did do their apprenticeship in the business before getting this opportunity. The pair have 4 more movies in the works, one of which I will mention in a little bit.

I think the most telling quote I can give you about the movie is Jason Statham admitting that the movie wasn't the greatest: "You ain't ever gonna get an Academy Award for doing Crank and you certainly won't for doing all the other movies I've done." I can only imagine the unholy mess that Dungeon Siege was, so I have to give him credit for acknowledging that his choices aren't the best artistically.

I didn't go into Crank expecting art, in fact, I had rather low expectations going in, but I was really surprised that I not only liked the movie, but found myself recommending it. Of course, after looking it up a few minutes ago on Rotten Tomatoes, I discovered that I wasn't the only one who liked it. Of course, I think one of the reasons I liked the movie as much as I did was I happened to have been playing Grand Theft Auto III right before I saw it, and the movie does seem to channel some of that same energy. In fact, Chev Chelios told his girlfriend that he was in game design rather than the truth that he was a hitman, so it is probably fitting that such a connection exists in my mind.

Of course, there is a reason I am discussing this movie today. You see, over the weekend it came to my attention that Statham, Taylor and Neveldine were currently filming a sequel/prequel (I don't know which) to Crank somehow to be released in 2009, and the very idea sort of disturbed me. Yes, I liked the original as I've said, but I don't think the world was yearning for another one, though I may be wrong about that. I mean, I thought Shoot Em Up also drew heavily from the same well and given its relative failure at the box office, I thought this kind of quick paced, semisatirical action movie was no longer viable because I just don't think I can be surprised again, but that may just be me.


Anonymous said...

Knowing these guys (Neveldine and Taylor) personally, trust me you're going to be surprised. Really surprised. And, you're gonna like it!!!

MC said...

See, I am looking forward to Game. Looks like a solid cast.

Tuffy said...

They actually quoted him as saying "ain't"? Haw!

MC said...

Well, no one ever accused Jason Statham of being erudite.