Crank 2: High Voltage Review

Crank 2 opens with our hero, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham), falling out of a helicopter, landing on a car, bouncing onto the street, and surviving. He is picked up (with a shovel) by Asian gangsters who steal his heart, replacing it with an artificial one.

Now, the question is, knowing Chelios can fall hundreds of feet out of a helicopter and survive, why replace his heart in the first place and give him a chance to extract revenge? This is the idiot plot on an extreme level, although in a movie this absurd, none of that really matters.

For at least the first half, Crank 2 is fun. One ridiculous action scene follows another, one involving the violation of a large man with a shotgun that won’t be detailed here. Crank is sort of a live action cartoon (minus the kid-appropriate nature), and if you can imagine Wile E. Coyote continually chasing the Roadrunner while being forced to injure himself to stay alive, you get the idea.

The second half of Crank 2 makes you wonder if the first half was a set-up. It teases you with sequences of ridiculousness so absurd, it makes you believe that no, it cannot be any dumber than having sex in front of 8,000 spectators at a race track. It does.

Chev Chelios battles his nemesis inside a power station, which transforms him into a giant. The two battle it out on a miniature set, flying around and crashing through the structures. The parody is obvious, yet the movie’s goal is to top even that.

Crank 2 uses it all, including graphic gore, gratuitous nudity, a head inside a water tank (that is still alive), breaks the fourth wall multiple times (the best being when Chelios whistles the music playing over the action), uses ridiculous subtitles, and continually inserts random cameos.

There is no sense to Crank 2, and there shouldn’t be. That is sort of the point. The issue here is that absurd action can be done right, such as in Shoot ‘Em Up or Wanted, movies that carry some credibility. Crank 2 has none despite the laughs, but is so bizarre, ends up focusing on a small market that will be able to withstand the unexplainable visual assault of the final half hour.

Movie ★★★☆☆ 

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Crank 2 was shot cheaply, with cameras purchased at local electronics stores. The purpose was to be able to maneuver and place the cameras in odd places and angles while saving money. In that, directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor succeed. When it comes to a hi-def presentation, things can’t quite hold up.

Aliasing and shimmering are constant problems for any straight lines. They flicker, appear jagged, and generally distract. Constant digital filmmaking problems show up, the worst section being an interview on a TV talk show with Chelios as a child. The plants in the background contain awful ringing, and the entire scene has an unnatural digital sheen to it.

Interlacing problems show up from time to time. Note the scene near the end as Chelios approaches a telephone pole, where the trees contain lines running through them, as with the majority of the shot. Much of the film carries the look of artificial sharpening, and like most of the problems, this is undoubtedly part of the source.

That said, detail is strong, capturing exceptional facial textures. Sharpness is routinely strong despite the ringing in many scenes. Noise is noticeable although not as rough as the aliasing. Loads of color filters cause over saturated colors and at times de-saturated colors. Contrast is hot to match the harsh look of the film. Everything about this AVC encode looks artificially cranked up, but that is sort of the point (bad puns aside).

Video ★★★★☆ 

Lionsgate loads the film with a powerful DTS-HD 7.1 mix that captures everything from the overbearing soundtrack to the loud gunfire. The opening scene is enough to sell this track, with Chelios crashing into the car with a powerful low-end thud with the surrounds picking up flying debris cleanly.

Gunfire is wonderful, hitting all channels as bullets are fired and reach their destination. Fights capture some excellent positional work, and the horse race nicely fills the soundfield with crowd cheers. Every cue needed works wonderfully, including a car crash that rocks the low-end with a powerful jolt.

Audio ★★★★★ 

Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor provide a commentary that can be viewed/heard three different ways. The traditional audio track is funny, with the two acting with an over-inflated ego about how great the movie is. The picture-in-picture track lets you select from two different views, and adds to the same commentary with various behind-the-scenes clips with additional interviews. The latter is the preferred option, as the Neveldine/Taylor commentary that is missed with the clips is limited.

Making Crank 2 is short of an hour long, providing the same comedic egotistical approach as the commentary, while diving deeper into motivation for the sequel and how things were done. Crank 2: Take 2 is a funny collection of mistakes left in the movie that were missed by the editing team. Wrap Party is a collection of on and off-set hysteria.

Trailers, Lionsgate Live support (trailers, wallpaper, and worthless gadgets), digital copy, and Molog support (also ridiculous) finish off a fun set of bonus features.

Extras ★★★★☆ 

NOTE: Some users are reporting problems playing Crank 2 in their stand-alone players. From these reports, it seems to be with the initial BD-Live load. If you have a BD-Live capable player that does not have enough internal memory, a SD card or USB thumb drive are required to play the movie. This thread on AVS forums may prove helpful if you are still having problems.

The disc played and loaded fine on the PS3 used for review purposes.

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