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This week:
Crank: High Voltage

Filthy says:
"The frat boys think they're cool!"

Crank: High Voltage is among the stupidest fucking movies I've ever seen. Writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor must think Jean Claude Van Damme movies are just too contemplative. What's weird about this movie is that it's so proudly idiotic. Like somehow the grassfuckers think by amping up the pointlessness it will transcend its own laziness and stupidity. It's like going on a date with a girl who tells you in advance that she farts a lot. Self-awareness doesn't make her stink any less.

Jason Statham plays an asshole named Chev Chelios. Apparently he's a hitman in the first Crank movie. He's not much of anything in this one. But with a name like that it's unlikely he's going to be a professor of economics or a brain surgeon. The movie begins with Statham falling from the sky, bouncing off the roof of a Jaguar and being whisked away by Chinese gangsters who steal his heart and insert an artificial one. They want Statham's indestructible heart to transplant into their leader. They plug in the artificial one to keep him alive so they can next harvest his dick. After catching wind of their plans for der wienerschnitzel, Statham bolts the operating room.

The following long and redundant 75 minutes feature Statham running around a Los Angeles ripped from some video-game-addled shut-in 15-year-old boy's fantasies. The women never wear tops and are all strippers, hookers or porn stars there to be humped or insulted. There is a scene of striking porn actors for God knows what reason other than it sounded really cool to the pre-pubescent writer-directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (who pretentiously only use their last names for the directing credit--maybe they are aspiring to be McG). One scene features Statham and another actor as Godzilla-type monsters grappling in a fake cityscape (what the fuck?). That scene is supposed to be humorous but it simply illustrates how unfunny and derivative Neveldine and Taylor are.

Statham searches for his heart by killing dozens of people and shoving a rifle up one guy's ass. He connects himself to electrical sources to keep his battery-powered replacement heart pumping. Actually, there is about 30 minutes of mindless bloodshed, 20 minutes of tired ethnic cliches and jokes about cops eating donuts, and then about 25 minutes of silly editing bullshit that makes the movie look more like a bad film-school thesis than a professional production. Some asshole with Avid got a boner every time the footage got choppy, a cmera angle got swoopy or they could do a split screen. I forgot to mention the "hilarious" scene where a guy using a long-distance card at a payphone has to enter about 100 digits. I stopped watching Evening at the Improv in about 1990, so maybe I missed the news that this gag is funny again.

Crank: High Voltage proudly has almost no plot. It also proudly hates women. Not objectifies them, hates them. It seems the makers are so fucking scared of ladies that they can only picture them in pornographic terms. That's pretty great in terms of the amount of nudity. But, the nudity is presented so juvenilely, as if to appeal to the lowest common denominator or men in prison who have never seen boobies before. I never thought the naked breast could get boring, but presented here they are non-arousing and a cheap add-on to any scene.

Early on, a Chinese prostitute (Ling Bai) attaches herself to Statham for little reason, and she is discarded with even less. In between, her comic relief role is to talk with a thick, fake accent, then get hit by a car. Ho ho ho. Later, Statham is reunited with a stripper ex-girlfriend (Amy Smart -- see, this is where your career goes to die after you star in romantic comedies opposite Ryan Reynolds), and for some retarded reason they fuck on a horse track during a race in front of the stands full of people (who we're told cheer for them). A side note: Smart must have had a no-nudity clause in her contract because she wears black tape over her nipples during her strip scene, surrounded by women who are completely topless. The filmmakers could have given her a different job, or some decent excuse to be covered up, but I guess they said, "Ah, fuck it; it's too hard making sense, so put some tape on her and shoot it like she's a dancer." This shit purports to be funny, but it's just too fucking hateful to laugh at. And I would advise getting a restraining order against any man who does.

The whole electrical charge bullshit is a lazy device, most likely generated by a bad plot device machine. It's used arbitrarily. Statham has virtually no trouble electrocuting himself when needed, and frequently skips the obvious and available power sources so the movie can show him climbing utility poles or hooking his nipples up to car batteries. One moment he can recharge himself off a low-amperage car cigarette lighter, but he never stoops to just plugging himself into the outlets that are everywhere. I'm an idiot for even bothering to point out the plot's inconsistencies, though. It would be as unending a task as popping zits on a teen's face. Besides, the people who will like this movie will say it's not about plot. It's supposed to be mindless fun. I still don't understand that horseshit logic. Why should anyone get let off the hook and excused for stupidity when something can have just as much action and be a hell of a lot more interesting if the filmmakers weren't allowed to play the "mindless" card.

Crank: High Voltage's Chinese are called chinks and slanty eyes. The blacks, gays and Mexicans don't fare any better. Some may be offended by all the namecalling, but that's exactly what Neveldine and Taylor want. They want you to think they are breaking rules and being naughty. They aren't trying very hard. Crank: High Voltage is like a Mountain Dew commercial where: a little forbidden, but not really. All the insulting just struck me as lazy, especially considering that the assholes insulting each other have absolutely no personality written into them. They just come across as dickweeds who insult each other because they're in the same fraternity and it's their way of saying hello.

My biggest complaint with Crank: High Voltage is not its mindlessness, calculated offensiveness or plotlessness. It's that I just didn't give a fuck. It's like watching a porno made up entirely of cum shots. I'm sure there's someone who gets off on that, but most people like a little context, a little tease, and a build up. It's relentless, derivative, tiresome and in-your-face in its pleasure with being those things. But saying you're a vacuous asshole doesn't make your being one any better. Neither does it make that date's farts smell any less.

Crank: High Voltage is short and it features loads of nudity, but it's still too damn long. Maybe it appeals to video game losers who have little grasp on reality or to kids with mental disorders that prevent them from getting along with others. But otherwise, it's too little movie and too much bullshit. Fuck this one finger piece of shit.

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Sam Rubin of KTLA Los Angeles

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Filthy's Reading
W. R. Burnett - Underdog

Listening to
Hot Snakes - Thunder Down Under


Last Yeat at Marienbad