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Crank’ gives an adrenaline thrill-ride at a non-stop pace

Tae Andrews | Friday, September 22, 2006

You might say Chev Chelios is having a bad day. He wakes up feeling like death, then finds out he might literally be a dead man walking after watching a DVD left by an enemy, which reveals to him that he’s been poisoned in his sleep.

The antidote? There is none. After consulting his doctor, Chelios finds out that the only way to for him to stay alive is to keep his adrenaline flowing in order to stave off the chemical compound which is not-so-slowly killing him.

Enter the world of “Crank.” If you’re asking yourself questions like, “Why wouldn’t the bad guys just kill him in his sleep?” then you’re asking the wrong questions and missing the point. This movie is a bullet-ridden joy-ride that apologizes for absolutely nothing and never slows down.

Chelios is a survivor, hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to stay on his feet long enough to dole out some punishment on those who poisoned him in the name of sweet vengeance.

The main idea for Chelios is to load up on enough stimulants (and “stimulating activities”) to stay alive long enough to kill off his many enemies. As such, he self-medicates with copious amounts of drugs in a desperate attempt to prop himself up. Chelios snorts cocaine, pops pills like Skittles, and drinks more Red Bull than sleep-deprived students pulling all-nighters.

Chelios also spends a lot of time running. In fact, the working title of “Crank” probably could’ve been something akin to “See Chev Run.” And “See Chev Drive Around at 100 mph.” And “See Chev Shoot Anything That Moves With a Massive Handgun.”

In a movie like this, where the basic premise is absurd and the actor is basically placed on a revved-up treadmill with bullets flying everywhere and explosions going off every minute, the character is everything. And what makes Chelios work as a character is actor Jason Statham – he’s perfect.

Clearly, Chelios is from the school of hard knocks and won’t hesitate to use meat cleavers, guns, other assorted weapons and the two mitts he calls hands in his pursuit of bloody vengeance as he races against the clock.

Statham just looks the part. As the consummate man’s man, he’s balding on the top of his head, but makes up for it with ample body hair just about everywhere else, and practically oozes testosterone. Add in a blocky chin chock-full of stubble plus a pair of mean eyes squinting out from underneath his Neanderthal brow, and you’ve got what Isaac Hayes would describe as one “bad mother shut-your-mouth.”

Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor seem to have taken a page from Quentin Tarantino or attended Robert Rodriguez’s 10-minute film school – in a style reminiscent of “Sin City” and “Kill Bill,” hands are chopped off, blood spurts everywhere and lead sprays from ubiquitous firearms like celebratory champagne.

In addition to this “praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” filmmaking ethos, the directors also manage to mix in a lot of ridiculously funny moments amongst all the car chases, explosions and general chaos, including a sex scene hilarious enough to rival that of the puppet love-making in “Team America.”

Something new that Neveldine and Taylor bring to the table is that they crank up the speed, taking Tarantino’s cinematic hyperbole and ratcheting it up to a blistering pace.

Unlike such previous winners of the elusive five-clover review such as “Brokeback Mountain,” the word “good” doesn’t come to mind when assessing “Crank” as a film. This is not a movie that’s going to win any awards. However, the words “awesome” and “sweet” do pop into one’s head, as in “That was awesome!” or “Dude, this movie is sweet” (two comments made several times during and after the viewing of “Crank”).

So fear not, “Brokeback Mountain” fans – “Crank” doesn’t threaten to join “Brokeback Mountain” in the annals of five-clover mention. However, like the drug laden cocktails Statham throws down his throat to propel himself along, “Crank” has the perfect combination of adrenaline, testosterone, blood and sweat (no tears here) to propel itself along at its frenetic pace all the way to its heart-stopping conclusion.