Jason Statham, I owe you an apology. I snarkily sneered every time I heard you utter the phrase: “Remember, you are not a salmon” in those Kit-Kat adverts. I was non-plussed as you carved out a cushty niche for yourself as Guy Ritchie’s main geezer. And I turned a blind eye when you got over Kelly Brook dumpage by winning over Hollywood with the Transporter franchise. But then I saw Crank: High Voltage.
I’m not actually sure you can sum up this film adequately in words. Instead, try to picture the sound a cartoon dog would make when it discovers that its owner's penis tastes of doggy treats – a worrying mix of astonishment, delight, confusion and discomfort. Crank: High Voltage is less a movie, more a thing that can only be felt on a base sensory level, an experience that bypasses your rationale and targets your primal impulses against your better wishes.
To the plot. Not too much to report. Statham plays Chev Chelios, an unsurprisingly indestructible hard bastard, who in the first 5 minutes survives falling from a helicoptor, landing on a car and having his heart removed by the Triads.
This doesn’t stop him, just puts him in a strop, so off he jogs to get his heart back, on account of him being previously quite attached to it. But his replacement heart needs to be regularly charged, so his quest is punctuated by him doing all sorts to kick-start it, from getting Latino badasses to jump-start him to frotting a granny to rustle up some friction. Ang Lee, this isn’t.
To go into any greater depth would spoil things, though there isn’t actually much more to it. Granted, there’s Chev’s incredibly aerobic reunion with his girlfriend, who, under the impression he was dead, sought solace in stripping, plus some other latino gangsters who also want a piece of Chev.
At its most basic, it’s about a man with an unexotic hairline running around clouting people with funny accents, while an assortment of loose women take advantage of the good weather and allow the fruitier parts of their body to get some air. It’s puerile, lame, intellectually malnourished, badly acted – but it’s possibly the most jaw-dropping fun you’ll have for some time.
Dripping with crazed energy, it willingly sheds any pretension about being anything worthy and offers a Dionysian schlock parade that it’s hard not to be won over by. Anybody who’s ever got their kicks from Russ Meyer, Stephen Chow or the more loopier end of Takashi Miike’s output will feel right at home – it crackles with the same demented creativity.
There’s also a strong gaming undercurrent to it too, as Statham roams around committing random acts of violence in a first-person-shooter/GTA way, backed-up by the gloriously retro 8-bit opening credits.
It could very easily have been one of the greatest flops in film history, given the amount of toot thrown at the screen. But directors Neveldine and Taylor handle it all amazingly, keeping the tone knowingly ridiculous, while keeping it visually fresh by layering in graphics as visual footnotes and entertainingly digressing into irrelevant parodies.
Statham too is part of the charm, his cockernee vibe, normally a cue for fair-minded people to start asnoozing, is played as a rampant caricature that can’t be taken seriously.
Again, Mr Statham, I owe you an apology.
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart
Directed by: Neveldine & Taylor
Extras: Commentaries, featurettes, trailer