Revisiting Crank (2006)

crank posterCrank is one of my favorite action movies of all time, so when I saw the Bluray on sale at Target for a mere $5, I bought it. I’m still new to the whole Bluray thing and do worry a bit about the quality of movies, especially discount ones and whether I’m getting screwed. But, my love of this movie and the cheapness lead to the purchase even though I already own the DVD. I don’t plan on replacing my DVD collection, but there are definitely movies like this one with strong visual styles that I want to see in this better format.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I watched the film, but after catching a few minutes of it on TV the other day, I gave it another watch. Last time I wrote extensively about the movie, I went the “drunken live blog” route which you can check out here. I just gave it a read through and there are some pretty funny moments in there. It’s also funny how the sporadic randomness of my notes kind of perfectly reflect the kinetic awesomeness of this film.

As I somewhat poorly explained in that other post, the film follows Jason Statham’s Chev Chelios, an assassin who has been poisoned with a drug, trying to find his killer. Chev discovers with the help of his doctor friend played by Dwight Yoakam that if he can keep his adrenaline pumping it will keep him alive. Statham uses various methods to keep those levels up trying to find Verona. Along the way we meet his girlfriend (Amy Smart) who has no idea what her boyfriend does for a living as well as an eccentric cast of characters including Efrem Ramirez, Reno Wilson and Glenn Howerton.

It sounds like your typical action movie when you write it out, but what separates Crank from its brethren is the writing, directing and filmmaking chops of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. These guys — who also made Crank: High Voltage, Gamer and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — have such an amazing vision for the kinds of films they want to make. I have no idea if they have the whole tapestry in mind when they go into making a film or if it comes to them as they go, but the finished product is such a fun visual treat that utilizes the medium of film in ways that many others don’t. This covers anything from the guerrilla style of shooting they utilize to the use of music and on-screen text and graphics to doing little things like showing the person Chev is talking to on the phone while driving in his side mirror. That last one is such a small thing I don’t know if I ever even noticed it before, but there it is.

It’s funny because a lot of the things Neveldine and Taylor do in their films seem designed to remind you that you’re watching a movie, something I usually dislike. But the key to a movie like Crank is to make the audience fully understand that they’re watching a movie. I mean, the story here is basically a video game or cartoon, but the way they handle it makes it surprisingly human, but not too human that you feel REALLY bad for some of the people who have bad things done to them. It’s like what Garth Ennis said in the intro to his Punisher Marvel Knights book: it’s all over-the-top violence and escapism, not something that’s looking to analyze society’s relationship to violence and bloodlust. It’s just fun.

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