Saturday, 17 November 2012

Film Review | Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

Crank 2: High Voltage is possibly best known to many for its "so bad it's good" tagline: "He was dead... But he got better". Amusing in a ridiculous, throwaway kind of way. If only the same could be said for the film...

Picking up exactly where Crank left off, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) begins the film lying in the middle of the road having just plummeted from a helicopter. Barely clinging to life, Chelios is kidnapped by Chinese gangsters who remove his heart, replacing it with an artificial replacement only intended for short term usage. Chelios escapes and begins hunting down the people who have taken his heart, all the while having to find ways to pass electricity through his body to keep his artificial heart working.

Co-writers and directors Neveldine and Taylor clearly believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Simply put, if you liked Crank, you'll almost certainly lap up Crank 2; equally, if you weren't such a fan of the first film, the second will do nothing to sway your opinion of the franchise.

But whilst Crank had more than its share of problems, it was redeemed at least in part by individual moments of creative flair and invention. Crank 2 has none of this. The action feels tired and repetitive, and even though it's clear that Neveldine/Taylor believe they've raised the extreme nature of the franchise a few notches from the first outing, this regularly comes across as just too ridiculous or too gross to be entertaining, instead prompting laughs of derision. There are a couple of surprisingly surreal moments - including one where a fight between Chelios and an adversary is realised in the style of a classic Godzilla film - but these come across as confusing more than anything else.

With the extreme nature of the action ramped up, unfortunately so too are all the things that are unpleasant about Chev Chelios' world. The racism and sexism are even more prevalent here than in the first film. The Chinese and Latino gangsters throughout never stray from lazy and offensive stereotypes (Neveldine/Taylor even manage to get rice-picker hats in), and racial slurs are thrown about without a hint of tongue in cheek. Every female character is a sex object, and the vast majority are either strippers or prostitutes. But, in the interest of taking things further than in the first film, Crank 2 also finds room for homophobia and mockery of the mentally disabled, playing both for as many laughs as possible and never succeeding.

Crank 2 ends up retreading an awful lot of familiar ground from Crank - in fact there are whole sequences which may as well be lifted wholesale from the first film - but in a less interesting, less impressive and more offensive way. There were actually a couple of points during the film where I questioned whether or not I wanted to plough on to the end, something which I very rarely consider even with the most tedious of films. The tagline may be "so bad it's good", but the film it's attached to is just bad. And when the tagline is the best thing about a film, things can't get much worse.


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