Dir: Neveldine / Taylor
Crank: High Voltage is a perfect storm of terrible cinema. It is ineptly shot, written, edited and acted. Those are the least of its problems.
Mark Neveldine is 36, and his co-writer/director Brian Taylor is a similar age. You’d never spot it from their movie though, because Crank: High Voltage appears to be made both by and for crack addled 13 year olds with ADD. I’ve seen some irritatingly shot movies in my time, and more so recently, what with the terrible shaky-cam trend in current action cinema, but this film makes The Bourne Ultimatum look positively sedate in comparison. There’s not single second that this movie isn’t bombarding you with stuff. Cuts upon cuts upon cuts, designed to make the film look edgy, pounded into my head, making me ungratefully realise that - finally - someone has filmed what a migraine must feel like. The cuts are also there to try and generate a bit of excitement, because God knows that the story and the events unfolding on screen can’t do it.
You’d think a film packed with as much relentless action as this one couldn’t fail, at the very least, to get the adrenaline pumping. That, though, would presume that you can actually tell what the hell is going on but, between the barrage of edits and the fact that little of the action is shot to show Statham’s full body, all geography of every action scene goes completely out of the window. Worst are the shootouts, in which you have absolutely no clue who is shooting who. Of course you also have no clue as to why, because as simple (in all senses of the word) as the this film's script is, it’s also convoluted to the point that you’ll never know what’s happening or why. Not that you'll care, because giving any of their characters a personality that might induce you to care what happens to them is either beyond Neveldine and Taylor, something they don’t want to do, or both. I suspect both.
Okay, so the acting isn’t and never will be the main point of an action film, but why should it be as relentlessly terrible as it is in Crank: High Voltage? Jason Statham, for example, is so wooden that I wonder if he is in fact a tree, certainly the effect would be largely the same if he were. On the other side of the coin there’s Bai Ling - more famous for her nipples than her acting, and with good reason - giving a performance so irritating that I’d rather the soundtrack had replaced her with the sound of fingernails being scraped down a blackboard. Everyone else plays as if they are in a really awful pantomime which, to be fair, is probably the only way to be noticed through the unspeakably dreadful camerawork.
However all these concerns with the technical and entertainment qualities of Crank: High Voltage are moot points, because they are the very least of my issues with it. What really makes this film the soul eating experience it is is the fact that it is most morally repugnant piece of retrograde filth I’ve seen in a long time. Watching this movie is like being dragged through a sewer.
Violence, says this movie, is BRILLIANT. Now, as you may have noticed, I like violent movies, point of fact as horror fan I encourage and embrace violent movies, but there has to be a point, there has to be something behind the violence that justifies it, otherwise you are just doing what Neveldine and Taylor do here. Crank: High Voltage revels in violence, it’s never more than two minutes from erupting in orgiastic scenes of bodies being pummelled or riddled with bullets, and it dwells in and fetishises every single frame of its violence. Recently Martyrs was decried in some quarters as disgusting because of its dwelling in violence but Pascal Lauiger's film, unlike this one, never embraces its violence; never asks you to enjoy and applaud it.
I love women. Really, I think they’re just about the best thing in the world. Neveldine and Taylor hate women. Actually, they don’t even appear to think of them as women, they see them as breasts attached to a never-ending stream of whores and strippers. Again, my problem isn’t with breasts - they’re great - but would it hurt to have one woman in this entire movie whose purpose wasn’t to be sexually exploited and objectified? Crank: High Voltage treats minorities with just as little consideration as it does women. Every single minority in the film is a hardened criminal, which means that Neveldine and Taylor add racism and homophobia to a charge sheet that already includes sexism and total inability to make a movie.
Nobody associated with Crank: High Voltage should ever be allowed to work again, and if they do you should refuse to give them your money, because this isn’t cinema, this is filth. In fact, by depicting the aryan looking Statham as the only somewhat virtuous character, on a film long quest to save his heart from being stolen by gangs of criminal ethnic minorities, it skirts dangerously close to being fascist propaganda. I really hope this disgusting film is the worst that I see in 2009, because the alternative depresses me.