Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Mark Neveldine + Brian Taylor | 2006 | 87 min | UK + USA

The premise of this film is simple: a British hit man wakes up to find a video playing in front of him, in which a rival gangster explains that he has been poisoned and will be dead within an hour. Within minutes, he realises that he can prolong his survival by keeping his adrenaline up. 80 or so minutes of increasingly fantastical action sequences follow. My first reaction to Crank was “I can’t believe this premise hasn’t been used before”. I mean, D.O.A. used a similar dead-man-walking-hunts-for-his-own-killer idea way back in 1950, and it seems unbelievable that it’s taken 56 years for someone to add the modern twist of hyper-speed to this terrific plot device.

Essentially, this film is five minutes of setup, and 82 minutes of non-stop action, as our reluctant hero tries everything from cocaine to nasal spray to keep his heart rate up so that he can exact revenge upon the rival gangs who injected him with the deadly “Beijing Cocktail”. Insert one clueless girlfriend and one nonchalant doctor (Dwight Yoakam in his best role since … maybe Sling Blade?) and voilĂ . Action at its most satisfying.

The best thing about this film is that it’s (by necessity) all action and very little melodrama. It’s not that you don’t care about Chev (Jason Statham at his most roguishly charming), it’s just that you don’t want to sit through drawn out emotional sequences as he and his loved ones cope with his impending and seemingly inevitable death. The worst part of any genre film is the seemingly obligatory emotional lull in the third act – the part that really makes you to feel what the characters are going through, while boring you into a stupor. Truthfully, 99% of films don’t need this filler and would be much better off without it.

Thankfully, Crank understands that it’s not about one man’s struggle with his own mortality. It’s about one man’s struggle to get sweet revenge while engaging in as many high speed chases, public sex romps and hospital shoot-outs as he can before he croaks.

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