September 7, 2006

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Crank (R)
Jason Stratham is all sorts of shoot-’em-up, smack-’em-around fun in the dizzy action nugget Crank, a movie that hits the palate with the junk-food buzz of a bag of Oreos and a can of full-sugar, full-caffeine Coke.

You know, that hazy sugar rush and plasticine yumminess followed by a vague feeling of nausea and greasiness. Leaving the theater after Crank, you feel the same need for water and some exercise.

Not that the movie doesn’t run you around quite a bit. Chev Chelios (Jason Stratham) wakes up one morning with a headache and a strange heart-attack-y feeling in his chest. A DVD left on his TV features Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo), an all-around baddie, telling him that he’s been injected with a poison that will kill him in about an hour. Chev decides that’s just enough time to find and kill Verona and perhaps get a hold of his doctor (Dwight Yoakam), who might have a suggestion for finding an antidote. The good doctor is out of town but the two quickly work out that the poison is killing him by inhibiting his adrenaline. The way to at least prolong Chev’s life is for him to keep his heart rate up however he can — violence, sexual excitement, fear, extreme physical activity or drugs.

Like Speed but without the bus.

Chev, as it turns out, is a hit man and is in this predicament because of his most recent job, the assassination of Don Kim (Keone Young, best known as Woo in Deadwood). Chev reaches out to his unhelpful boss (Carlos Sanz) and his mildly competent assistant (Efren Ramirez, Pedro of Napoleon Dynamite fame) to attempt to find Verona, who attempts to further infuriate Chev by threatening Eve (Amy Smart), Chev’s girlfriend. And now, in the dwindling moments of his life, he must add protecting her to his to-do list.

Crank does not attempt to be smart, terribly original or anything deeper than splashy shiny action movie. The result is that it succeeds at being exactly the kind of guns-blazing fun its trailers suggest it will be and even getting you to laugh a few times more than you expect something this obviously junky to allow you to. It has fun with music-video quick-edit camera work and with its wavy hallucinations and poison-induced booziness of the increasingly sick Chev. With so many other films finishing out this mixed-bag of a summer with weak, half-baked entries, Crank is a silly, disposable yet entertaining treat. C+

— Amy Diaz


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