Crank 2: High Voltage is absolutely insane. On purpose and by design. You likely already know if this bit of madcap lunacy is in your cinematic wheelhouse; those unfamiliar with the first installment are not likely to take this challenge. The plot here is the same as the original: Indestructible hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) has to keep his heart pumping fast enough to overcome a ridiculous affliction, with the conceit here being that his own heart has been removed and replaced with an artificial one that requires electricity to operate. The gonzo-splatter filmmakers, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the first Crank, Gamer), are sadists of the first order. Here’s a random checklist of some of the cartoon-like atrocities that are displayed in this breakneck action movie: Anal-violation via shotgun; elbow-caps hacked off with machete; close-quarter machine gun shoot-outs; 10,765 old-school squibs being detonated; graphic and near pornographic sex scenes; gratuitous female nudity; Godzilla-style beat-downs (in the film’s most inspired sequence); casual racism; casual homophobia; casual misogyny; pitch-black humor – this equal opportunity offender has something hysterical and repugnant for every member of the extended family! I am able to easily award this amazing piece of trash four outta four stars. Four Big Ones. The film itself knows that it’s bonkers, and everyone involved in the making of it knew that it was bonkers. It doesn’t give a fuck what you think of it, and most enjoyably, it makes sense on its own terms. Extreme cinema like this lives in its own bubble, and I love these types of modern grindhouse efforts, as they typically all feature explosive stylistic ingredients that push various formal boundaries.
Sure, it’s nothing more than an R-rated Wile E. Coyote cartoon where nothing makes any logical sense. But the sheer energy and low-tech skill that Neveldine/Taylor brought to the table is simply staggering. Working with the daring and resourceful cinematographer Brandon Trost, the filmmakers shot this off-the-wall movie with 20, $1000 consumer-grade camcorders (or so I’ve read), resulting in a Tony Scott-on-a-sheet-of-acid aesthetic that will send anyone with any sort of spastic disorder into bouts of epileptic shock. The rogues gallery supporting cast is incredible, with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, David Carradine, a totally tripped-out Bai Ling, Corey Haim, Art Hsu, Reno Wilson, the amazing Efren Ramirez, and a snarling, extra-bad-ass Clifton Collins, Jr. as one of the chief baddies. Oh, and MAJOR shout-out to super-hottie Amy Smart, who again proved herself to be a champ on all fronts. She’s basically topless THE ENTIRE FILM, and her racetrack love scene with Statham is probably one of the longest, funniest, and wildest bits of simulated movie sex ever put on film. And what can you say about Statham that hasn’t been already said? He’s become his own brand, and even if I’m not in love with all of his actioners, when he wants to rip it up with full-force, he’s more than capable, and in the Crank films, he was able to cut totally loose and go for broke. Again – you’ll likely know before reading this review if you want to see this film. Is this the greatest movie ever made? No. But it’s an unqualified success based on its ambition, and no matter how depraved their vision may be, Neveldine/Taylor were clearly operating with a singular vision with this one.