The original Crank was an adrenaline fuelled runaway train of a film that didn’t pull any punches or give the audience any chance for a breather in-between action scenes; right from the outset there were fights, car chases, gunfights and public sex scenes, all followed by more fights, car chases and gunfights. It was often referred to as an unofficial, live action, version of a Grand Theft Auto game made for the MTV and post MTV generation; or basically any bloke that has a passing interest in the action genre and can appreciate a film that is simply fun, once in a while, without having to worrying about it being 100, or even 50% realistic.
What’s interesting about crank 2 (aside from the amazingly cheap production budget) is that unlike many other successful films, instead of trying to find alternate ways for the same characters to interact with one another or tell a different story to engage the audience in some other manner that remains fresh and separates this film from the first, the filmmakers have simply found out what made the first film so instantly popular and used that to tell essentially the same story, with the same characters, only with every single scene cranked up to 11.
And yes, that means that once again Jason Statham headlines as shaven headed hard-man Chev Chellios (despite all but watching the coroner pronounce his time of death at the end of the last film) who is once again on a mission to avenge his own slow death before he finally cops it. The only difference (aside from the fact that it’s now someone else who has essentially killed him) is that instead of using a poison that can be counteracted with adrenaline, the wannabe gangsters actually stole his heart, but foolishly replaced it with a small battery (not completely different to an ironman situation) which gives Chev all the opportunity he needs for another shot at life, or vengeance.
So Chev essentially wakes up from the dead, and goes on a mad rampage around L.A. in a quest to get his heart back, along the way getting involved in a variety of new gunfights, car chases and another extremely public sex scene, not to mention molesting the odd granny. However, apparently there is reasoning to all of the madness, in that all of the action, granny rubbing and public sex, help to keep his battery ticking over just long enough to get that one step closer to the people who stole his heart, or allow him time to hook his tongue up to a car battery or grab a pylon, so his battery can keep on ticking for another 10 minutes.
Plot wise Crank 2 was always going to be absurd, and practically every scene can be accurately predicted by anyone who has played a few G.T.A. missions or even perfectly storyboarded by anyone that watched the first film, but that isn’t to knock crank in anyway because it never tries to be more than it is; an hour and a half of pure, unadulterated fun that provides some real quality action scenes, a few semi naked ladies and a lot of laughs.
Talking of acting seems largely pointless, as there is only one real star (Statham) and as he is beating people up, shooting people, driving very fast or electrocuting himself through 96% of the film he doesn’t really act all that much aside from pulling the odd mean face and saying that he is about to get the next group of bad guys. And that is essentially all the dialogue consists of, adolescent drivel that could have been cooked up by a twelve year old with developmental problems and anger issues (provided he was a G.T.A. fan, according to some critics), but yet again it fits perfectly into Chev’s surreal, viscously cartoonish, universe. Statham’s is by no means a stellar performance, and far from the best of his career, but anyone who watches Crank 2 solely in order to witness some truly fine acting has definitely chosen the wrong film.
The only other real ‘star’ of note is Amy smart, playing Chev’s on/off girlfriend Eve, and as with Statham she has performed better elsewhere but slots into the filmmakers world well enough. There are also a few comedy cameos from the likes of Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington, Geri Halliwell and an interesting one from the late David Carradine that is worth looking out for.
Aside from the largely superb action scenes, the direction and the cinematic style used is what makes Crank 2 really stand out from the competition; it’s immensely fast paced with probably thousands of quick cuts, some very original transitions and unusual effects used, especially when showing hallucinations; such as showing Chev and one of the bad guys fight in Bo-Selecta style masks of themselves as giants in a clearly fake miniature power station, or presenting short sequences in the style of an 8-bit Nintendo game. There were several different types of hi-def cameras used (including one handheld that can easily be ordered commercially through Curry’s, Amazon or any other electrical supplier) producing distinctly different styles and becoming reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (only without the overreaching message or artsy reasoning).
In short, Crank 2: High Voltage does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s essentially a rerun of the first film, in overdrive; and that’s no bad thing. It doesn’t promise an emotionally heartwarming story, stellar acting or even a basic plot worth caring about, what it does offer is the chance to watch an electrically charger shocker that provides the audience with what they want; an hour and a half of pure non-stop action at its absolute best. Crank 2 is what it is; mindless escapism at its finest.
As with all other new features, Crank 2 is presented via a full 1080p transfer and it is one that looks consistently fantastic. The majority of the film takes place via external shots and they never fail to impress, with little artifacing or other image problems. Obviously if examined closely there is an element of grain noticeable, but the detail in this transfer is so crisp and clean that it really has to be seen to be believed, as it so clear that it almost seems unreal; as if not only has the action been cranked up to 11, but so has the pictures sharpness.
Contrast is sound, and whilst colour is obviously heightened on certain scenes more than others, it is fairly consistent and never too powerful or unnatural that it becomes distracting. Black levels remain inky and deep throughout, and help to create a transfer that whilst heightened and not perfect, is hard to fault; a true testament to the potential quality of Blu-ray.
Crank 2’s impressive soundtrack bursts through the speakers via a well made DTS-HD-MA mix that is truly immersive; managing to successfully utilize the entire soundfield (and every speaker) to its fullest potential. Volume levels are as good as they can possibly be, with dialogue well anchored and abundantly clear, gunshots and other like-minded action effects are also crystal clear and well placed as is the large amount of bass used in the soundtrack. In short this is one soundtrack that is extremely difficult to fault.
The Blu-ray edition of Crank 2 comes loaded with a plethora of extras including audio commentaries, a making of featurette, BD live content and the option to create bookmarks.
All features are presented in the same tongue in cheek fashion as the main feature, and are well worth a look for fans of the series, although adding bookmarks is largely pointless as every Blu-ray automatically contains a scene selection option that will propel the viewer to within a couple of minutes of any point in the film they desire.
It is also worth noting that the films ending credits are worth watching in their entirety as they contain short clips that finish off the story as well as several amusing outtakes.
The bottom line:
Crank 2 might be just another re-run of the first film (a non-stop insane actioner of a film with full-body-tourette’s) but for anyone who enjoyed the original it will be more than worth an hour and a half of their time. It’s not the film to watch if you’re looking for something serious, a gritty drama or even anything remotely realistic; it’s 100% pure fun, it’s one to watch if you’re looking for a laugh, if you enjoy a bit of action and can appreciate something so daft and clearly slapstick that it’s amusing and enjoyable. The extras are good, easily arranged and not simply mindless filler, and more importantly the picture and audio quality are truly amazing.
The plots terrible, the dialogue is complete tripe and there’s no real acting to speak of… But who cares? Chev Chellios is back from the dead and on an action packed quest to get his heart back, in a film that comes highly recommended; one to watch if you fancy a change from all the overly serious films being released nowadays, an enjoyable fun filled ride of a film.
However, whilst the film and disc clearly warrant a viewing, there have been reports of an inbuilt problem with the current batch of Crank 2 Blu-ray’s available, meaning it may prove wise to research the numerous places online with information on which players have the problem and how to update or fix the issue before buying.