Crank 2: High Voltage Review

The Film

Nihilism is a very tempting philosophy. When you look at a world where Hollywood studios reheat the seventies and eighties, where David Cameron gets kudos for saying "twat" and where Liverpool are suddenly unable to pass a football, it's easy to believe in nothing. Without special offers, the newest gadgets, and a healthy supply of Green and Black's White Chocolate, I might just slowly slip into despair.
Crank 2, according to its dryly comic creative team, is the end of civilisation as we know it. It is an exercise in provocation, of pushing an envelope that their first instalment left in tatters. It is a deconstructed piece of entertainment literally driven by the need to keep you watching, upping the ante, and satirising the fact that you can't help loving it.

As a sequel, this is a case of going for broke. The first film began with elements of fantasy whereas this film announces itself, courtesy of fake news, as "bullshit" from the very start. Chev Chelios(Statham) is then literally scraped off the tarmac he fell several thousand feet to at the end of the first film, and is then harvested by triad gangsters for his organs. Faced once again with a critical coronary condition, the triads have taken his "strawberry tart" and the battery on the replacement is running low, Chelios sets out to recover his "pumper" and pay back the bad dudes.

Set into motion, our hero ensures that the action will top the first film's bad taste, offensive stereotypes and ludicrous plotting. His partner, Amy Smart, will be introduced pole dancing and top the public intercourse of Crank by enjoying congress at the race track, in fact on the race track whilst horses jump the humping couple in front of a baying crowd. Efren Ramirez, somewhat dead in film #1, will return as his own identical twin, villain #1 will re-emerge as a cryogenic head, and Doc Miles will continue to provide medical guidance for the impossible set-up in order to keep Chelios pumping.
So this is trash right? Narrativeless, empty nonsense which is sexist, racist, and an offence to your intelligence? How can a mature adult countenance a film with a gunfight with exploding silicone breasts? How can anyone enjoy the sight of an uncharged Jason Statham creating friction by rubbing against a pensioner with a walking frame? How can a film with a Latino Elvis villain, and twin armies of street whores and sadomasochistic gay black men be morally sustainable?

Well, this is because this is the end of the world as we know it. Neveldine and Taylor are twisted geniuses who are all about getting away with as much as they can. The charges of offensiveness are exactly the kind of nonsense that these men want, as this is a hysterical parody of the real world. The absurd cockney accents, the bonkers Asian prostitute, and the identical twins story are all part of these mens plans to destroy any internal censorship you may bring to this film. Their talent is to turn preposterousness into an artform and to create possibly the most ironic entertainment that you have ever seen.

Similarly, their mode of shooting with small handheld HDV cameras and the two directors operating the visuals themselves gives their work a kineticism to match the bonkers breathlessness of the story. With occasional sketches thrown in such as Chelios on a daytime TV show as a child(complete with Geri Halliwell as his mum), cut-ins and flashbacks, the result is as close to a modern cinematic cartoon as you could ever see - whimsical, flash, and not to be taken at face value.
If Crank 2 does bring down Christendom, and the multi-nationals whose products are plugged constantly here, then it could be the ultimate subversion. A bit like a disease that creates its own cure, Crank 2 is a human race chasing its passions all the way to inevitable destruction - all endless gratification with no moral value. Neveldine and Taylor have made the ultimate anti-movie and I can't help myself but say it's rather good.

Technical Specs

After a bit of processing from the HDV sources, Crank 2 looks pretty remarkable. The limits of the technology are a lot clearer in still frames but in motion the image is razor sharp, incredibly detailed both in and out of shadow, and the colours within the high contrast look are vivid. Blacks are as deep as I could hope, skies are dazzlingly blue, and faces show up in impeccable definition. The filesize for the transfer is only 22.2 GB.
The master audio track is phenomenal with tremendous aggression and detail in the reproduction, a soundstage that moves with the action, and the relentless soundtrack belting away across the whole range of channels. I haven't heard an audio option that sounds quite as great as this one.

Extras

Crank 2 required a download to play on my player and there have been numerous reports of the rental disc having difficulties playing on Region B players. I'd do a search on AVSForums to check that out, but best advice is to update your firmware before giving this a go. The menus and design of this disc are vital, creative and fun. The LG live features include downloadable ringtones and gadgets making best use of the film's effects and dialogue. MOLOG offers you a chance to subscribe to threads to discuss the film if you sign up.

The feature commentary comes in standard audio track version and a picture in picture version which plays the film in a small box in the screen's center whilst the creators talk over it and interviews and footage of shooting are also cut in. Neveldine and Taylor are funny, immensely dry and quite subversive - they are close to stoned or loaded but very witty in spite of it. Their irreverence and lack of illusions about their industry prove entertaining precoccupations to listen to.

The pair are also interviewed for the making of documentary where they applaud the fact that the studio didn't seem to read the script properly or realise what levels of outrageousness they were planning. Statham mentions how he wanted to work with them again and loved the script, Amy Smart explained why she agreed to the multiple indignities of her part, and some background on the filming innovations tops the whole thing off.

Continuing in disarming mode, there is a blooper reel and another mistakes featurette pointing out all the errors that actually stayed in the movie because the writer-directors decided they could get away with it.

This is a well loaded disc and the maverick duo are rather admirable company. The novel design and excellent production make up for the fact that some of the features are in 1080i rather than progressive.

Summary

Making a virtue of complete moral bankruptcy is the charm of Crank 2, and this anti-movie is presented very well, if, of course, your player can play it!

Film
8 out of 10
Video
9 out of 10
Audio
10 out of 10
Extras
8 out of 10
Overall

9

out of 10

Last updated: 26/04/2018 19:08:36

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