STUDIO:  Lionsgate
MSRP:  $34.98
RUNNING TIME:  95 Minutes
Audio Commentary
Making Of Featurette
Crank 2 Take 2
Digital Download

The Pitch

“We made a helluva lot of money off the CRANK DVD.  Let’s BEG those guys to make a second one.”  You think I’m kidding…

The Humans

Writers/Directors:  Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Starring:  Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, Corey Haim, Efren Ramirez, Clifton Collins, Jr., Bai Ling, Art Hsu, David Carradine

The Nutshell

Chev Chelios didn’t die at the end of CRANK.  Instead, he was abducted and had his heart stolen (and replaced with an electric one) so David Carradine could strut around and pick up prostitutes.  So now Chev’s gotta go on a killing spree to find his real heart and think of various ways to keep the battery of his artificial ticker juiced up.

Well, it’s an unusual request.  But, when in Rome…

The Lowdown

I adore CRANK.  Unashamedly.  I absolutely love it.  I love it enough that I played it for my Mom – and SHE loved it.  It’s a magical movie – lightning in a bottle that came out of NOWHERE and rocked everybody’s socks off.  It was so good that it earned the writing/directing pair of Neveldine/Taylor insane amounts of goodwill.  Now, I haven’t seen GAMER (I have seen PATHOLOGY – which they wrote but didn’t direct – and it was okay, but I digress), but from what I’ve heard about it along with seeing CRANK 2 – part of me is starting to think CRANK was a fluke.

Haha, no – it really isn’t.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely fair.  CRANK 2 came to life in the worst way possible – the studio begged the duo to make a sequel and they didn’t wanna do it.  So, in an effort to at least “sell out and make some cash” (their words), they agreed to write the script for someone else to direct, going OUT OF THEIR WAY to make it exponentially bigger, louder and more fucked up than the first, hoping to make a movie that nobody would ever want to make.  I suppose it’s a noble ambition in and of itself, but in doing so they “fell in love with it” and decided to just go ahead and direct it too.  And to be honest I don‘t understand that.  When your original intention was to just scare away any potential bandwaggoners and you don‘t put any cognitive thought into what you‘re writing – and you do it that way ON PURPOSE – how can you possibly think that going ahead and MAKING the damn thing is a good idea?  It has its moments, indeed, but overall it’s just an empty, smoldering, bullet-riddled, bloated shell of the original.  They took everything that was unexpected and fantastic about the first, multiplied it by retarded and threw it all together in a big blender.

But perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

During slow moments on set, Statham and the extras liked to play MATRIX RELOADED.

One of the things I liked about CRANK was that they took this completely normal, average world and dropped a metric fuckton of CRAZY right in the middle of it.  Chev Chelios and Co. weren’t just organic pieces of an insane whole – they stood the fuck out.  In CRANK 2, they eschewed the real world and distorted everything to match the absurdity of the situation.  And without that contrast there’s no punch – there’s no shock.  It’s all a bunch of crazy shit happening in an equally crazy town and it all feels too predetermined and…organic, for lack of a better word.

“Come with me if you want to live…but only if you’re on Team Jacob.”

Although the fact that it feels predetermined is because it is.  Ninety percent of everything you see is everything you already SAW.  Chev and Eve in Chinatown was great.  GREAT.  Chev and Eve at the horse races?  Fuck off.  Chev’s little finger-gun bullet to the head?  A total “What the fuck” moment in the first.  An eye-roller when it happened here.  And in the first we were caught off guard by all the little tricks Chev used to rev himself up – and their residual side effects.  Here, all Chev has to do is subject himself to electric current.  And the lengths to which he goes to make that happen get completely ridiculous and asinine – and more often than not it’s not in a fun way.  Every single frame of this movie was designed to leap over some bar that was set by the first.  And honestly – as fucked up and brilliant as the original was, that’s just a bugfuck stupid thing to do.  And what made it even worse is that there were some amazing elements to it all – little flickers of that original magic.  When Chev raided the little “social club” at the beginning you could feel that old energy starting to bubble up again.  The opening surgery scene is just the right amount of fucked up and funny.  When Ricky Verona has his little cameo towards the end – HOLY SHIT.  Nobody saw that coming and it was spectacular.  Hell, a guy has to cut his own nipples off.  These are all amazing things.  And even though a couple of those “original moments” didn’t always work (that Toho scene was the worst fucking thing ever and the whole interview with Chev as a kid bit was trying way too hard to be NATURAL BORN KILLERS), if they had kept THAT mentality from top to bottom the movie would have probably been fantastic.  As it stands, for every one fun moment you get another moment where they might as well be saying “Hey – remember when we did this in CRANK?  Yeah – you loved it!  Here – we’re doing it again!  Yeah – isn’t it awesome still?”  No.  It really isn’t.  Especially when you telegraph everything ten minutes ahead of time (seriously – the psychiatrist/bullet ricochet scene?  People liked that?  You spent the ENTIRE time just waiting for it to happen and when it finally did you get the doc vomiting on the camera.  GASP!  I’m shocked!  Bah – fuck off).

I look at this and the first thing I think is “DAMN that dude’s calf muscle is ripped.”  I’m gay, aren’t I?

Though, with all that bitching and complaining out of the way I will say that, for the most part, damn near every performance was something to savor.  Statham was great as would be expected, but the only problem I had with him here is that he’s not just playing the straight man in a crazy situation.  That worked really well in the first, but here they actually have him being goofy and doing silly things and it didn’t really serve his character too well.  Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam turn in rehashes of their original characters, and they’re fine.  Eve has a new confidence and attitude that Smart really gets into, though I kinda liked her naïve, almost bubble-headed character from before a little better.  Efren Ramirez was brought back as the twin brother of his dead character from the first film, but there was no reason for him to be.  He didn’t do a fucking thing except milk a Full-Body-Tourette’s joke that got old the moment they introduced it.

After awhile, guitars, Cadillacs and hillbilly music sort of lose their effect.  So you gotta try something a little different.

But the new guys?  The new guys were pretty fucking fantastic.  Carradine didn’t have a whole lot of time on screen as the 100-year-old Poon Dong (really?  REALLY?), but what he did have he reveled in it.  Every word that came out of Bai Ling’s mouth made me giggle.  And Clifton Collins, Jr. stole every single scene he was in.  His El Huron was a perfect villain for a movie like this.  Slimy and repulsive, but cool as hell and fucking psychotic.  He may be the only thing they got right in their quest to top the first.  His performance ALMOST makes it worth the price of admission.  Almost.

Sooo…then what’s he gonna do with that fist?

At the end of the day there’s really nobody to blame except Brian Neveldine and Mark Taylor, but really – what‘s there to blame them for?  They did exactly what they set out to do – make an abrasive, loud, ridiculously over the top movie that pushed every boundary and every limit they could think of.  And yeah – they were extremely successful at that.  The problem is that they’re talented guys, and as fans we (or I, anyway – as I’m in the minority here with my opinions) expect them to put a little more thought, effort and attention into their work than this.  Everything here was blatantly and admittedly disingenuous and even though I can, on a general level, appreciate that “Fuck you – we’re gonna make whatever the hell movie we damn well want to” attitude, when a fiery Chev Chelios looks into the camera and shoots his middle finger in the air, I can’t help but feel like it’s directed as much at me as anybody for expecting something that wasn‘t (for the most part) boring, lazy and recycled.

The Package

The cover is pretty much GENERIC ACTION MOVIE!  Which, I guess, works pretty well in a subversive sort of way.

For special features there’s a little Featurette called “CRANK 2 TAKE 2” which is basically a complete list of all the scenes where there’s a camera or crewmember in the shot.  I actually did sort of like this.  Again it brings that whole “Fuck you” mentality to the forefront and even though you could expound on that and make it say “Fuck you – we’re lazy and we don’t give a shit,” I was able to (perhaps hypocritically) appreciate it.

“M-well, yaknoooowww…first I’m a-gonna shoot ya in the FACE…and then I’m a-gonna eat the Jell-O PUD-diiiing…M-Dah-ah-ah-ah.”

Next, there’s a little “Making of” Featurette that basically tells the story of how CRANK 2 came to be and how they shot it.  There’s a commentary as well but it’s more of the same.  Aside from all the fun facts about the movie, I also learned this:  Neveldine and Taylor are a couple of frat-boy douchebags.  They’re the kind of guys I’d probably rather just punch in the face in lieu of actually trying to carry on a conversation.  It’s possible that they’re just playing it up for the camera, but I’d be surprised if that were the case.  It kinda makes everything make a little more sense, actually.

Right back atcha, fellas.

OVERALL 6 out of 10