September 3, 2006

“Crank” a worthy piece of escapist fun


By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The 2006 summer movie
season went out with a reasonable bang courtesy of "Crank," a
jacked-up, unapologetically mindless bit of ADD-prescribed
escapism that more or less delivers on a nifty premise.

With Jason Statham of "Transporter" fame commandingly in
the driver's seat, the Lionsgate picture, which wasn't screened
in advance for cranky critics, is tailor-made for young male
audiences who view life as one big video game.

Sharing writing and directing chores are first-timers Mark
Neveldine and Brian Taylor, former cinematographers who
subsequently turned their attention to helming music videos and

That background gets put to rigorous use here, with Statham
playing Chev Chelios, a professional killer who regains
consciousness following a blow to the head, only to discover
that he has been injected with a deadly poison that will stop
his heart cold within an hour unless he can come up with ways
to keep his adrenaline flowing long enough to search for a
possible antidote.

As the remaining minutes of his life keep ticking by,
Chelios tears through the streets of Los Angeles on an
ephedrine-enhanced mission to find the thug (Jose Pablo
Cantillo) responsible for his grim predicament while hoping to
buy a little time from his laid-back personal physician (Dwight

For at least the first half of the film, "Crank" plays out
like an adrenaline junkie's wet dream, dishing out enough
nonstop, high-octane tongue-in-cheek action to make TV's "24"
look like "60 Minutes."

Unfortunately, Statham's Chelios proves to have greater
staying power than the vehicle that carries him, and once it
takes a detour to pick up his oblivious, bubble-headed
girlfriend (Amy Smart), a good chunk of that giddy momentum is
forever lost in the process.

But as long as Neveldine and Taylor keep things moving, the
movie can be playfully addictive, with cameraman Adam Biddle
and editor Brian Berdan doing their bit to keep that visual
energy percolating.

The filmmakers also do well by a guilty pleasure song list
that finds amusing uses for "Achy Breaky Heart" and Loverboy's
"Turn Me Loose," while Google Maps obligingly tracks Statham's
feverish trek through an HD-amped downtown Los Angeles.


Chev: Jason Statham

Eve: Amy Smart

Verona: Jose Pablo Cantillo

Kaylo: Efren Ramirez

Doc Miles: Dwight Yoakam

Carlito: Carlos Sanz

Directors-screenwriters: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor;
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Skip
Williamson, Michael Davis; Director of photography: Adam
Biddle; Production designer: Jerry Fleming, Editor: Brian
Berdan; Costume designer: Christopher Lawrence; Music: Paul

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter