Reviewed by: Sam Moore

Jason Statham (Snatch, the Transporter films) stars in new action romp Crank, a story of betrayal and revenge on a tight schedule. After waking up in his home one morning underworld hit man Chev Chelios (Statham) finds he has been poisoned while unconscious by a rival thug, Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo). After learning there is no cure, Chelios does what every self respecting hard man would with his final hours - tracks down and kills everyone involved in his demise. So far so generic. The difference in Crank is that this particular poison affects the victim's adrenal gland and heart in such a way that they will die within an hour unless the heart rate is kept high. So basically, the faster Chelios' heart beats, the longer he lives. It's a bit like Speed, but instead of a bus you have a bald headed ganster who likes to hit people. This results in a day-long rampage across Los Angeles as Chelios tries everything to stay alive just a little longer so he can tie up his loose ends (confessing to his girlfriend what he really does for a living, giving his mob doctor friend as much time as possible to find a treatment, and beating up a whole lot of people). In this role Statham sits quite comfortably, by now we all know he can play the hardman bit in his sleep.

The supporting cast in this film do their job just fine (Amy Smart as his girlfriend Eve is quite endearing in her own way, although her naive ways may be an irritant to some), but they're mostly just there to give Statham someone to hit. The script is downright hilarious, dripping with cheese, and must surely have been written with Statham in mind - it's as if the writers went to downtown London and listened out for the daftest 'hardman' lines going. Fans of films like Snatch will recognise what I mean very quickly. There are a few good lines in there (watch out especially for his frequent phone conversations with Verona) but this is an action romp through and through, and dialogue serves little purpose in the grand scheme. The most memorable lines tend to be those which were most ridiculous.

Copy picture

From a cinematic point of view there are a few interesting effects to watch out for - scene transitions, while looking a bit cheap, are quite original (the use of Google Earth images to track the characters progress through L.A. is quite an nice touch) and audio as well as video effects work well to draw the audience into Chelios' frequently drug-altered world (throughout the film he takes everything from Red Bull to epinephrine to keep his heart pounding). The production values feel pretty cheap most of the time, but then you didn't really expect anything else from a film like this, surely?

Of course, since this is an action film there are many fight scenes, gun battles and car chases to be had here. While perhaps not quite on a par with some of the scenes from The Transporter, Crank does manage to hold your attention with some gritty and brutal scenes. Ever seen a man use the corpse of his best friend as a shield against shotgun fire? You will have now. Statham is fast becoming one of my favourite action stars, perhaps he'll become the new Seagal in time. This is certainly the sort of film I can imagine Seagal having done at some point in his long career. The intensity of the film is kept high by the poison in Chelios' veins, sheer desperation comes through in some of the scenes giving a strong sense that the character is just going to run straight through anyone in his way. The final scene is a corker, and I was very relieved to see the script did not call for some awful happy ending tripe - the climax is bloody and intense, and leaves you with the satisfaction that everyone who deserved a horrible death has had it delivered with a sneer.

All in all I found this film delivered exactly what it promised. It's a no-brainer action film, with violence, drugs and just a little public nudity. If you're thinking about seeing this you should ask yourself why - if you just want a cheap thrill, and a few laughs at the sheer cheesiness of it, get your ticket and go. You won't be disappointed. If, however, you like your films to be a little deeper, best give it a miss.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
Share this with others on...
Crank packshot
A poisoned man must keep his heart rate high to stay alive as he hunts his killer.
Amazon link

Read more Crank reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray **1/2

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Sanz

Year: 2006

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Search database: