They call it the "Beijing cocktail" and when it's injected into your bloodstream you've got about an hour to live. The science behind the drug is cloudy. But all you need to know is that it slows your heart to a crawl. A deadly crawl. The only solution is adrenalin. Lots and lots of adrenalin. When contract killer Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is pumped full of "Beijing cocktail" he catches on quick that to survive - see his girl, kill the man who doped him, even some scores - he's got to keep moving. Keep pumped. This means we're treated to roughly 90 minutes of Statham ingesting, swilling, snorting or injecting every drug, energy drink and caffeine powder he can find. Exactly 85 minutes of Statham racing through downtown L.A., bowling over pedestrians, shooting mobsters, brawling with gang bangers and having sex in public. Eighty-five minutes of Statham doing anything and everything possible to keep his heart beating as rapidly as it can. Crank is trashy, vulgar, violent, and every bit as excessive as you'd imagine. I loved every delirious minute of it.
The best parts of the film are those you don't expect. We know that Statham, being a hit man (and British at that), will go after the men who wronged him. We know he'll get into all manner of complications along the way. That's Action Film 101. Where Crank excels is in its inventiveness. Like Pulp Fiction before it (or the recent, underrated Running Scared) the thrill is in the unexpected turns. And the plot of Crank is geared for constant invention. Stratham needs to stay mobile, needs to stay pumped, so the film never passes up an opportunity to shove some action his way. When Statham begins to flag (the sound flutters, the picture dims) and he needs an adrenaline fix, the audience is cued for another round. It's almost William Castle-like in its fun gimmickry.
Continue reading: Crank Review