Movie Review: Crank 2: High Voltage
“He’s strong to the finish, ’cause he eats his spinach…”
Usually the above jingle would culminate, naturally, with: “He’s Popeye the sailor man!” But it comes to mind when discussing the highly entertaining Crank High Voltage not only because of the film’s overtly cartoonish approach, but also for its main character’s constant reliance on an external energy source in order to get the job done. Of course, whereas our favorite cockeyed sailor only needed a can of green vegetables in order to pummel Bluto, High Voltage’s Chev Chelios requires something a bit more modern — namely electricity, and lots of it.
That’s somehow appropriate given the videogame and pop-culture influences of the Crank series. The first film also starred Jason Statham as Chelios, a hitman looking to retire who has the craziest day of his life when he’s poisoned by a rival and must keep his adrenaline flowing in order to stay alive long enough to find his “killers.” Or at least, that was his craziest day before this sequel kicked in, which picks up at the exact moment of the first film’s final moments when Chelios plummeted from a helicopter and crashed to the street below — and seemingly survived.
As High Voltage begins, a band of Triad gangsters make off with Chelios’ unconscious body and quickly perform some makeshift open-heart surgery in the back of a massage parlor. The super-heart of Chelios is removed, apparently for its intrinsic value, and replaced with a mechanical pumper that has a very limited lifespan. Three months pass, and Chelios finally makes his escape from these villains when he realizes that his captors are planning on harvesting the rest of his organs — including his “horse c@$k.”
So the superhuman Chelios must find his heart, but he soon realizes that he has to keep his artificial ticker powered up in order to continue the sprinting, fighting, and killing that takes place almost nonstop over the course of the film’s hour-and-a-half running time. That leads to the electricity previously mentioned, which is derived from all manner of sources — tasers, car batteries, power plants, and so on. It also leads to the over-the-top cartoonishness of it all, as any semblance of reality is drained from the film like a car that’s had its headlights on all night.
And let’s take a moment to thank writer-directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine for not feeling the urge to keep these proceedings “real” at all, because that’s what makes the film so much fun and separates it from the typically mechanical and repetitious action genre. We’ve got a whole summer’s worth of that junk coming at us soon enough, thank you very much.
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