There are many problems with Crank: High Voltage, but its biggest flaw is that while it retains the juvenile idiosyncrasies that made its predecessor a cult hit, it also dispenses with any sense of wit or panache, instead choosing to regale its audience with a pop-art smorgasbord of tits and violence. This is ADHD filmmaking at its most crass and obvious.
For those of you already winging your way to the comments section to vent your anger, let it be known that I am a fan of the original film, and so cries of ‘You just don’t get it, man,” won’t work here. Crank had a genuine playfulness and dry wit that undercut its pop-culture stylings, but this sequel is trying too hard to once again achieve that coveted ‘cult’ status. However many scantily clad ladies throw their arses at the camera or gyrate around poles watching the blood spill, it just never gets interesting. Statham still has the natural charisma that makes him fit the role to a tee, but in this film his dialogue is restricted to bland cockney rhyming slang and shouting the word ‘fuck’ a distracting amount of times.
The film tries, like its predecessor, to poke fun at cinema and action movies in particular with varying degrees of success. A hallucinogenic Godzilla skit, for example, is a welcome divergence into obscurity amidst all the killing. There is plenty of violence but half of it is hidden behind rapid cutting and ‘zany’ camera movements that obscure and irritate rather than excite. A raft of semi-important supporting roles revolve around Chev as he makes his way through another breathless narrative, this time pumping himself with electricity (the new adrenaline) to keep his artificial heart going, but never really make too much use of their screen time.
Luckily there are a few inspired moments strewn throughout the mayhem. A character with ‘FBT’ (Full Body Tourettes) gets laughs he really shouldn’t, and Statham’s angry running and gunning is still occasionally worth your time. A misguided jaunt into Chev’s childhood is mercifully short, and an irritating prostitute character is sidelined fairly early on.
Some people will like this, some people won’t; it’s that kind of film. Given the pleasures of the first chapter, and the fact that I liked it, I expected more from this. The directors should be credited for persisting with their balls-out style of film-making – this is an original watch, at least – but they ought perhaps to reign in their MTV-stylings and find a new story.