April 24, 2009


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Crank High Voltage (R)
Death and the loss of a major internal organ does not stop hitman Chev Chelios from running around the L.A. area, fighting guys, stealing cars and occasionally electrically shocking himself in Crank High Voltage, a silly fun Jason Statham action movie.

Whereas Chev (Statham) woke up in the last movie to find that he was about to die, he wakes up in this movie to find that he was dead and has been revived so a powerful old mobster can take his organs, starting with his heart, which has been replaced with an artificial version. After dispensing with a couple of “doctors,” stealing some clothes and a car and figuring out who’s been poaching his parts, Chev sets off into the world to find his heart in hopes that his equally sarcastic-quotes-deserving “doctor,” Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), the same one helping him through the Chinese-death-poison problem in the first movie, can put the heart back in him and send Chev on his merry criminal way.

The search for his heart sends him past a parade of people of various ethnic stereotypes and eventually throws him into the path of Eve (Amy Smart), his girlfriend who believed he was dead and has become a stripper. Because a man can’t be expected to always steal cars, evade police and beat up bad guys on his own, Eve helps Chev, intermittently yelling at him for not calling and for eventually convincing her to have sex with him in front of the crowd at the Hollywood Park race track. Why the public sex? Because skin on skin creates friction, and static electricity becomes one of the many absurd ways that Chev keeps the battery for his artificial heart charged.

Crank High Voltage, like the original Crank, isn’t just an action movie — it’s supercharged fast-acting action. Fast cuts and sped-up footage zip us through fights and zip us across town (with the help of GoogleEarth maps) making the whole movie feel fast-forwarded, particularly when the losing-juice Chev jump-starts himself with a car battery or an electrical transformer or Taser. He revs up like Popeye swallowing a can of spinach and a tornado of fists rain down on whichever interchangeable henchman is in his way. It’s all very … well, OK, it’s all very stupid, but it’s also fun in its ridiculousness. It makes Michael Bay movies look downright sedate and scientific with its over-the-top burst of explosions and physics-defying feats. Crank High Voltage is exactly what you want if you want see to the ruggedly appealing (and — thank you, movie — frequently shirtless) Statham punch guys and kick guys and throw guys against the wall and get thrown against the wall and drive recklessly all over the city. Crank High Voltage is an amusement park ride of a movie offering immediate (and nearly immediately forgettable) action and entertainment without a lot of unnecessary thought. C+

Rated R for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language. Written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Crank High Voltage is an hour and 35 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Lionsgate and Lakeshore International.