It's always completely deflating when an otherwise tolerable idea goes completely awry in the sea of cinematic clich�s. I was well on my way toward ignoring the utterly ridiculous, inexplicable premise that has hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) injected with something called the Beijing cocktail, a poison whose effects can be kept at bay by adrenaline rushes. This means that in order to keep breathing, Chev must find things to do that involve speed, fear, elation; etc. - anything that gets his adrenaline going.
Of course, this is like every James Bond film we've ever seen where instead of simply shooting Bond in the head, the bad guy concocts some utterly ridiculous method of torture that not only allows Bond to escape, but provides extra incentive for revenge. In the case of "Crank," the rather dense Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) gives Chev the cocktail for no reason that's deducible. The result is that Chev finds a way to put off the effects and hunt Verona down. Instead of simply shooting Chev in the head while Chev is lying unconscious, Verona injects him with the cocktail. The only explanation for this that I can see is that Verona is experimenting on Chev to evaluate the poison for future applications. That Verona picks a hitman instead of some lowlife drug dealer to experiment on speaks to his utter stupidity.
The concept is a kind of like "Speed" meets "D.O.A." Unfortunately, the writers felt they needed to submit to convention by having Chev interact with his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) in what are the movie's most excruciating scenes. If the Beijing cocktail actually did what the movie suggests, Chev would have dropped dead within minutes of interacting with Eve. Since sex is among the things to get Chev's adrenaline pumping, the two end up boinking in public, which is another of the film's dumbest moments. Of course, the pretext for Eve's presence is that Verona is going to kill her, which he wouldn't have to do if he had a brain and just shot Chev dead when he had the chance.
It's always heartening to know that not only does Chev, a hitman masquerading as a video game programmer, have a girlfriend, but that she couldn't care less upon finding out that Chev kills people for a living. She's only concerned that Chev wants to quit, thus perpetuating the unfortunate stereotype that romance trumps intelligence in women every time.
"Crank" could have used a few more turns.
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