Crank: High Voltage

Filmmakers Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor will do anything to get a rise out of jaded viewers.

Having fallen from a helicopter, bounced off a car and landed face down on the pavement, it looked like Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) was dead at the end of 2006's Crank. The only explanation Crank: High Voltage needs for keeping him alive is that he's in an ultra-sadistic, live-action equivalent to a Road Runner cartoon. This film ends with Chelios on fire, flipping off the audience.

Crank was overpraised as an off-the-wall action picture, when its blase attitude toward its own shock-value undermined any sense of danger in the mayhem. Being too obvious in letting viewers know when it's supposed to be funny, it was a calculated subversion. The sequel improves by dispensing with the half of Crank that strived to be a regular action movie. It's 100 percent insane, and though its desire to offend at any cost reveals it's just a stunt, its existence is startling.

Chelios, having had his heart replaced with a mechanical one, needs to find ways to keep electrical currents moving through his body to keep it pumping. The first Crank at least had a better premise: By needing to keep his adrenaline above a certain level, Chelios' search for excitement was a perfect summation of Grand Theft Auto thrill-junkie culture. Chelios looking for his heart would only be an apt metaphor if Crank: High Voltage weren't so content to be so heartless.

Not since Natural Born Killers has a Hollywood movie this relentlessly pursued the experience of a bad acid trip. Crank 2's jittery freak show resembles Japanese films like Ichi the Killer and Tetsuo: The Iron Man. The film's sense of humour is largely obnoxious, but when the humour works, it's because it's testing your incredulity. Filmmakers Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor will do anything to get a rise out of jaded viewers. Look closely in Chelios' raid on a villain's home, and you'll see a severed head fly out a top story window. I'm not sure even the scriptwriters know what's implied in a scene where Chelios' girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) orgasms to the sight of a male race horse jumping over her. And if an R-rated movie can now show a stripper being shot and bleeding silicone, what's left to hide?

Look, it's disgusting. Feel safe in knowing that the audience for a movie like this is pretty slim. But in its own overkill (through spastic editing, and Mike Patton's manic score, the film found its shape in post-production), it's the outrageously bizarre movie the first Crank fell short of being. Crank: High Voltage will be referred to on lists of sequels that bettered their originals.

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