Review: Crank

This is as detestable a hard-R offense (equal-opportunity offender though it may be) as has ever been released to theaters.

Photo: Lionsgate

There’s really more to hate in Crank than to love. Discussed purely in terms of -ogynys and -phobias (with miso- and homo- occupying prime positions on the work’s extensive list of transgressions), this is as detestable a hard-R offense (equal-opportunity offender though it may be) as has ever been released to theaters. Yet the moments of elation, when they come, act as something of a rapturous buffer. Recall the moment when poisoned hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) stands, drugged-up and defiant, atop a speeding police motorcycle and it’s almost easy to forget how his cross-dressing informant Kaylo (Efren Ramirez) is treated throughout like a disposable piece of faggot meat, his final indignity to be used as a human shield against a hail of pistol fire. Such callous treatment of character is entirely in keeping with the stated intent of writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor to make a feature-length video game; even the credits of this trying HD-sourced exercise resemble the start-up windows from Commodore 64 and Atari days of yore. Give the directors credit for placing Jason Statham in the center of all the dull-witted madness that ensues. R. Lee Ermey can only boast that he’d rip out your eyes and skull-fuck you. Statham will actually do it. He’s a captivating star presence in perpetual search of a good movie, out-acting Tom Cruise in a one-line, “Welcome to L.A.” cameo in Michael Mann’s Collateral and finding hidden depths in every line of Hunter Richards’s distended masturbation fantasy, London (especially in his reading of what should become the quintessential Statham observation: “Sweating like a fucking rapist!”). There’s poetry in the rancid soul of Statham’s persona, evidenced in Crank when he takes a climactic death plunge into green-screen land and finds time to not only dispatch his nemesis (Jose Pablo Contillo), but to make a tender farewell phone call to his girlfriend (Amy Smart). The definitive essay on the pleasure and the necessity of an immoral cinema has yet to be written; when it is, Statham must be taken into account and given his full due.

 Cast: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Efren Ramirez, Dwight Yoakam, Carlos Sanz, Jay Xcala, Keone Young  Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor  Screenwriter: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor  Distributor: Lionsgate  Running Time: 83 min  Rating: R  Year: 2006  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Keith Uhlich

Keith Uhlich is a writer living in Brooklyn. His work has been published in The Hollywood Reporter, BBC, and Reverse Shot, among other publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle.

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