Crank 2: High Voltage

Title: Crank 2: High Voltage
Rating: 1.5/5
Genre: Action
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Bai Ling
Director: Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor

Whilst I'm sure it would surprise a few here, I enjoyed the first film and this is one I've been intending to get around to since its release. The debut was silly, sure, but it was one of those simple but profound ideas that made you stop and wonder why nobody had done this before. No more half-assing trying to squirm the characters into car chases or dangerous situations, but make him need the adrenaline in order to survive. Picking up where we left him – immediately after falling out of a plane, killing a man mid-air and doing a full body slam onto a car, he is whisked away, revived and then has his heart replaced by a mechanical heart, and not a particularly good one. It has a battery that dies in five minutes and an appalling ability to regulate the flow of current, meaning most of the time it'll either be racing or barely pumping. Pissed at his current situation, he tracks down the man who stole his heart. How's that for a homoerotic line?

I want to call this a comedy, except it's lacking that fundamental element that makes all comedy: actually being funny. This is not. It tries hard to be, and that's largely what makes it so painful to watch; it packs in overly long gags that pick up from the first film, briefly re-using old footage to remind the audience who the hell they were and why the joke is funny. Scott Adams (Dilbert) said it well with “it's not funny if I have to explain it to you,” and this falls into the same trap. The stretched plausibility of the first at least makes for an interesting concept but here it magically doesn't kill him but instead makes him stronger – I don't care who you are, when hit by a taser you drop – but even this feels like sweet relief after you realise he's suddenly slowed down to a crawl again and you have to endure another blurry slow-motion sequence of nothing happening until he sees a high voltage sticker.

The original was ridiculous but it was almost beautiful in its simplicity; do shit to get your blood pumping or die. Other than that it was a straight-forward chase film, but here it's convoluted with all the characters; old ones returning requiring flashbacks and a plethora of new ones that feel faceless and pointless targets to shoot at. Nothing really gets resolved at the end, Chelios finds himself once again in a borderline impossible-to-survive situation; they've tried to do that most foolhardy of things here and attempted to top the original. More tits, more guns and more bloodshed, but it plays off like a big budget film trying to pretend to be a B-Movie, spoofing itself like those tiresome turds still shat out by the 'Scary Movie' writers. Which in turn is like a born millionaire trying to talk about how he can empathise with the working class through mouthfuls of caviar and puffs on his pipe. Points to Bai Ling whose done enough genuine B-Movie work to know how to add a bit of sleaze 'n' cheese to the proceedings, but otherwise it's just plain awful.


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