Saturday, September 2, 2006

Reel To Reel: Crank

Sex, drugs, violence... and that sick feeling you've been taken for a ride.

How It Rates: *
Starring: Jason Statham, Dwight Yokham
Rated: R (should be NC-17)
Red Flags: Graphic Intense Violence, Graphic Drug Use, Graphic Sex (Don't even think about taking the kids!)

What is going on inside of me? Have I been drugged? Poisoned? No... I've been had. I expected an action film, but I didn't expect a dose of vileness with it.

I like Jason Statham. I liked him in both Transporter movies and hope he does another sequel. I like the premise of his latest film: a hit man out for revenge against the gang lord who injected him with a cocktail that will kill him unless he can pump adreneline into his system -- or keep moving. It's a promising formula, multiplying Speed by D.O.A.. But unfortunately, the filmmakers divided it by Domino, and the quotient is a putrid mess of gratuitous violence, language and sex so unredeeming even a few fairly-good action sequences can't save it.

Crank enjoys its own filthiness, right down to a pornographic act in the middle of L.A.'s Chinatown next to a bus full of giggling schoolgirls. It drops enough F-bombs to warrant U.N. oversight. It lobs in throwaway scenes of hookers and nude women in... plastic bubbles, for crying out loud. And it does drugs, lots of drugs, as Statham's character Chev pops, snorts and shoots up to keep his heart going long after he should be dead. One drug he doesn't do in Crank is "crank" itself, street slang for methamphetamine. Meth users often go on runs for several days, unable to sleep, but Chev doesn't know this.

Chev relies on his doctor (Yokham) to save his life. He's also leaning on his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) for emotional support as he goes on a rampage through L.A. crashing cars and shooting things up as he tracks down his poisoner. The moments with Smart hint at something interesting, but then we come to that Chinatown scene.

The whole movie runs like a bad drug trip with punk rock backing and shaky point-of-view shooting, capped with a cheesy ending out of the self-parody pile. Statham the Transporter had slick, deadly charm. Here, he's just a drug-crazed hitman having a very bad day.

I must be honest. I saw Crank one weekend after having one of the best experiences of my life among friends. When such a heartening experience is juxtaposed with one so disgusting, when the obscene follows the inspirational, the repulsive repulses me even more. Had I seen Crank before last weekend's festivities, I would have still come down on it hard. But seeing it now just makes me ill.

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