'Crank: High Voltage' a shocking good time

“Crank: High Voltage” is one of those sequels you can enjoy whether or not you’ve seen the first film. If you saw “Crank”, you already know exactly what to expect from this movie. If not, read on for a full review.

“Crank: High Voltage” takes place immediately after the events of the first movie. Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) has just fallen out of a helicopter to what should have been his death. Seconds after he hits the pavement, he is scooped into a van by a gang of Asian organ harvesters. Before he has a chance to escape, they’ve already taken out his heart and replaced it with an electric one.

Chelios’s friend, Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) tells him he only has one hour before the batteries in his new heart run out. If he starts to feel weak, he can jumpstart his electric organ by applying a charge directly to his skin. With little more than an hour left to find his stolen “strawberry tart,” Chelios turns to what he knows best, violence.

“Crank: High Voltage” doesn’t even try to give the audience a plot worth caring about, and that works to its advantage. Without the arbitrary, tacked on type of story most action movies use, all that’s left is an hour and a half of the nonstop action those very same movies try so hard to provide, and that’s a good thing. This is a movie that simply will not give you time to breathe. Chelios is running, fighting, having sex, or zapping himself throughout the entire film.

The only breaks come in the form of heavily stylized news briefs and flashbacks following the otherwise nonstop action. These sequences are unexpectedly funny and never feel gratuitous. If anything, the brief segments add a bit of comic relief to the film’s impeccable pacing.

“Crank: High Voltage” is constantly exciting and entirely involving, too. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself cheering during fight scenes after an iron pole to the face or groaning after a bike to the crotch.

In fact, the vast majority of what happens in the movie is unbelievably ridiculous. With Chelios’s friend with Full Body Tourettes (Efren Ramirez), a head in an aquarium, and a foul-mouthed old lady, you can imagine how very weird this film can get. There’s even a giant, Japanese-style monster battle that’s great for more than just the exaggerated Jason Statham head.

“Crank: High Voltage” is absolutely gorgeous, as well. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who both wrote and directed “Crank” and its sequel, are two of the most talented action movie directors alive. No matter what’s happening on screen, the camera always seems to be exactly where you want it to be, right in the middle of the action.

This definitely isn’t a movie for everyone, though. It is unapologetically testosterone-driven. There’s plenty of female nudity and half-naked women with big guns (sometimes the kind with bullets), as well as numerous thinly veiled images of male genitalia. Chelios’s girlfriend, Eve (Amy Smart) spends part of the film wearing electrical tape and the rest of it wearing only a t-shirt and underwear. I’m not saying girls will hate the movie; just don’t consider them its target audience.

The Verdict: If you’re looking for anything other than a wild, 96-minute beat-em-up piece of eye candy, feel free to skip this one, because that’s all it is. “Crank: High Voltage” is a great genre film destined to find its audience, but if you aren’t a part of that very specific audience, you’ll absolutely hate it.

Having said that, “Crank: High Voltage” is by no means a perfect film, but it is a perfect action movie. From the moment Chelios is shoveled into the van to the very end, there’s no slowing him down. If you’ve seen “Crank”, you know exactly what to expect here. In fact, this is basically the same movie except with a different heart-related plot device. You definitely don’t need to see the original to enjoy the sequel, though.

And in the end, who cares if the only thing less developed than the characters is the plot? This is genre film in its purest form, so embrace it. Don’t skimp on the popcorn, either.

2.5 stars (out of 4)

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