- Rated R
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All photos © Lionsgate
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
here’s a fine line between movies that are so bad they’re good and movies that are simply bad. Just like its predecessor, “Crank: High Voltage” desperately wants to be the former. But in trying to do so, it ends up more like the latter instead. A modern day grindhouse flick that is too unhinged and over the top for its own good, “Crank 2” is one of those movies that you really want to like for its fierce originality, but constantly reminds you why you shouldn’t throughout. It’s a classic Catch-22. Do you ignore the fact that it’s little more than a pornographic exploitation movie and just enjoy the ride, or is that what makes it unwatchable?
The movie picks up right where the last one left off, with Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) freefalling from a helicopter to his inevitable death – only, when he hits the pavement, he doesn’t actually die. Instead, he’s scooped up by some Chinese gangsters who remove his near-indestructible heart for their dying boss and replace it with an artificial ticker so that they can harvest the rest of his organs. Not exactly thrilled by the idea of being turned into a science project, Chelios escapes his kidnappers and sets off to retrieve his old heart so his good friend, Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), can put it back in his body before the power runs out on his replacement. Of course, if he hopes to stay alive long enough for that to happen, he’ll have to keep his heart juiced by whatever means necessary.
From police Tasers and cattle prods to car batteries and power lines, writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have a field day with an endless variety of electrical outputs with which to power their hero. Unfortunately, while Statham seems game for just about anything, the movie is so ludicrously deranged that even he looks a bit lost at times. “Crank” may have set a new standard for what you can get away with in an R-rated movie, but the sequel makes quick work of that with some of the craziest 95 minutes of film you’ve ever seen. Sure, Neveldine and Taylor are quick to address the implausibility of it all in the opening minutes, but just because they’re self-aware doesn’t give them the license to throw a bunch of crazy shit into a blender and hit start.
That’s ultimately what “Crank 2” boils down to – a wild concoction of things you normally wouldn’t be able to get away with in a Hollywood movie, as seen through the eyes of a pair of Red Bull-gulping porn junkies. Among the many things you can expect: Statham having sex with Amy Smart in the middle of a horse race; a poor schmuck getting anal raped with a shotgun; and in probably the strangest moment of the film, a low-rent Godzilla parody that gives new meaning to the term “random.” Oh yeah, and did I mention that David Carradine plays a guy named Poon Dong? What’s worse is that he’s only in the film for a few minutes. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again, neither does the rest of the movie. Neveldine and Taylor just don’t know when to quit, and though it’s hard not to admire their renegade style of filmmaking, it's the reason why "Crank: High Voltage" doesn't amount to anything more than a bad B-movie.
Single-Disc DVD Review:
It might not sound like much, but the bonus material for the single-disc release of "Crank 2" actually offers a solid behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. Writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor probably have a little too much fun on the included audio commentary, but “Making of Crank 2” covers everything you’d want in a production featurette, from casting, stunts and special effects to the advantages of using the affordably priced Canon HF10 HD camera. Rounding out the set is a short video montage exposing all of the various goof-ups that occurred during shooting.