Predictably, it’s time for my thoughts on the sequel to “Crank”, “Crank 2: High Voltage”. Let’s get one with the reviewing before I start singing that fucking Electric Six song…
“Crank 2” starts exactly where “Crank” left off. Hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is scraped off the road with a snow shovel and bundled into a van. He then has his heart replaced with an electric model and now he wants his original ‘strawberry tart’ back. Cue much Stath-induced mayhem and racial slurs. In terms of plot, it’s fucking insane and completely nonsensical, however I wouldn’t have it any other way. Statham is still Statham and I was glad to see Amy Smart given the chance to do something different with her character, giving her a much harder edge and making her actually interesting. Didn’t think much of the main villain, Johnny Vang (Art Hsu) but at least he had a few interesting quirks (the cooler revelation is actually a bit genius and almost definitely referencing “Pulp Fiction”). In fact, everyone was good except the hooker character, Ria (Bai Ling) who acts like a skinny, scantily-clad Chinese Jar Jar Binks with nothing but racist dialogue (she actually says she’ll do something “long time”) and a generally annoying presence. Whilst she is funny for the first few minutes when coupled with the gruff Chelios, her appeal rapidly wears off and we are left with one of the most annoying characters in recent memory since that franchise ruining, floppy-eared fuck. Bonus points for a “No…it can’t be!” David Carradine cameo too.
It’s clear that “Crank 2” wants to outdo the first film in every way possible, however some of these things work and some definitely do not. I love the fact that the film is trying to be as offensive as it can with its choice of scenes, dialogue, situations and general demeanor. For example, in the space of about 10 mins we go from a shoot-out in a strip club to a huge scrap with police officers to a pornstar protest rally with placards displaying phrases like “No Cash, No Gash”. It’s brilliantly demented, displaying a great knowledge of what will really get Daily Mail readers spitting out their Earl Grey and immediately tapping out an indignant e-mail to said “newspaper”. You’ve got to admire “Crank 2” for that at least.
There are some great scenes too. One of my favourites is a little meta-moment where Chelios nonchalantly whistles along to the non-diegetic soundtrack. I feckin’ love stuff like that and it brought a huge grin to my face. Another grin-worthy moment is the utterly surreal “Godzilla” style fight between the papier-mâché headed Chelios and Vang. However, one of the most surreal moments (and in this film that’s really saying something) is a bit of a misstep. We flashback to a young Chev on a chat-show accompanied by his mother (Geri Halliwell, in an inexplicable cameo). The idea is great, even citing video games as the cause of Chelios’ violent behaviour, but the execution is terrible. The accents on display here are truly awful. Both Ginger Nut and young Chelios are bad enough to be drop-outs from the Dick Van Dyke school of “Cock-er-ney” accents. It seems like such a silly mistake to make too, but oh well.
The video game similarities are definitely upped in this film. It’s obvious that it wants to be treated as such and that’s fine. However, much like many video game sequels, certain technicalities are improved, many hallmarks of the original repeated but it ultimately disappoints. When it comes down to it, “Crank 2” just isn’t as fun as its predecessor. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending either, with things becoming a little too silly (which again is saying a lot in this film). With the hinted-at “Crank 3” on the horizon, I just hope they inject some good ol’ fashioned fun back into the franchise.