Screenwriters: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Clifton Collins Jr., Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling
Running time: 96 mins
After plummeting to his apparent death at the end of Crank, Jason Statham's Chev Chelios is miraculously back for a second round of white-knuckle action in High Voltage. Picking up where the first left off, Chelios is scraped off the streets of Los Angeles by the Chinese mob, who surgically remove his indestructible heart and transplant it to their elderly leader Poon Dong (David Carradine). With a faulty battery-powered organ now in place, Chelios escapes his captors in a bid to reclaim his stolen heart, but with the added complication of having to give himself regular jolts of electricity to stay up and running.
Crank: High Voltage delivers pretty much everything the first instalment did, except faster, louder and even more over the top. Such cinematic staples like plot and characterisation are dispensed with as directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor unleash a sensory assault with Statham, his shiny bald pate like the tip of a bullet, ripping through their madcap universe. Making full use of his surroundings, Chelios electrocutes himself while hotwiring a car, stealing a dog's training collar and, in the most hilarious moment of all, building up static shocks by having sex with girlfriend Eve (Smart) in front of 8,000 people at a race course.
Free from the po-faced seriousness of the Transporter series, Statham thrives in the role of a determined and slightly demented action hero. With the part prioritising physical demands over emotional ones, he manages to both feed off and contribute to the film's manic energy. The events that unfold in High Voltage are completely implausible and ridiculous, like a live-action version of Itchy & Scratchy, but the filmmakers are keenly aware of this and keep tongue firmly planted in cheek - not least when Chelios happens to stumble across a picket fence of striking porno actors and in a flashback scene that casts a Spice Girl as his mother.
With video games struggling to make the transition to cinema, it may be a wise move to recruit Neveldine/Taylor for directing duties on future gaming adaptations. Crank offers the same kind of giddy thrill as a shoot-'em-up. Its sliver of a storyline, indestructible protagonist, and use of the Doc Miles character to guide Chelios through his quest (like Metal Gear Solid's codec radio) are all lifted straight from the joypad world.
What High Voltage lacks in brain cells it more than makes up for in madcap lunacy. Keanu Reeves may have turned the action film into a Hitchcockian suspense thriller with Speed, and later intellectualised it with The Matrix, but Statham's Crank series has married sky-high concept, MTV aesthetic and comedic ultra-violence, making its star the natural successor to '80s action icons like Arnie and Sly. The sole purpose of Crank: High Voltage's existence is seemingly to entertain, and it does that marvelously.
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views