Crank: High Voltage (2009)
Crank: High Voltage
Crank: High Voltage (alternately titled Crank 2: High Voltage) is a 2009 American action film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. It is the sequel to the 2006 film Crank, and stars Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Clifton Collins Jr., Efren Ramirez, Bai Ling, David Carradine, and Dwight Yoakam. The story follows ex-hitman Chev Chelios, who, shortly after surviving a deadly fall on the streets of Los Angeles, is kidnapped and has his heart stolen by Chinese gangsters who replace it with an artificial organ designed to keep him alive for an hour. Chev then sets out to find his heart while keeping himself electrically charged to stay alive. The film also features several cameo appearances of celebrities from various entertainment media.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on April 15, 2009, two days prior to its North American release date, April 17, 2009. Critics were not given advance screening of the film; those who saw it upon release, however, praised Statham's performance but criticized it as excessively violent, offensive, and visually unappealing.
Chev Chelios lands in the middle of an intersection after falling out of a helicopter. He is scooped off the street by gangsters and removed from the scene. Chev wakes up in a makeshift hospital and sees doctors removing his heart while Johnny Vang watches. The doctors place an artificial heart in his chest. He wakes up later and escapes, noticing an external battery pack is attached to him. By interrogating a thug, he learns the location of Johnny Vang: the Cypress Social Club.
Chev calls Doc Miles, who says that Chev has been fitted with an AbioCor artificial heart. Miles informs Chev that once the external battery pack runs out, the internal battery will kick in and he will have 60 minutes before it stops working. Chev crashes his car, destroying the external battery pack. After getting directions from a driver, Chev has the driver use jumper cables on him to charge the internal battery. At the club, Chev loses Vang but picks up a prostitute named Ria, who sends him to a strip club where Vang is hiding out. In the club, Chev finds Eve, who is now working as a stripper. A group of Mexican mobsters, led by Chico, show up looking for Chev. After a gunfight, Chev learns that a mobster named "El Hurón" ("The Ferret") wants to kill him, but he doesn't find out why.
Chev commandeers a police cruiser with Eve and another stripper. The stripper tells Chev that he should look at the Hollywood Racetrack for Johnny Vang. Along the way, Chev meets Venus, the brother of Chev's deceased associate Kaylo. Wanting his help, Chev tells Venus that El Huron was involved in his brother's death. At the horse track Chev begins losing energy again. Another call to Doc Miles informs him that friction will cause static electricity to power the internal battery. Eve arrives and has sex with Chev on the racetrack, which generates enough friction to charge the heart. Chev spots Vang and leaves Eve behind. Vang escapes, and Chev is about to be subdued by security when Don Kim picks Chev up in a limo. He informs Chev that there is a prominent leader in the Triads named Poon Dong, who was in need of a heart transplant and chose Chev's to replace his. Chev kills Don Kim and his henchmen upon learning that Don Kim wishes to return him to Poon Dong for a reward. Meanwhile, Venus calls in Orlando to assist in tracking down El Huron.
While searching for Vang, Chev boards an ambulance and steals a battery pack for his artificial heart. Chev exits the ambulance upon seeing Johnny Vang on the street outside and a shootout ensues before Chev subdues Vang. Chev learns that his heart has already been transplanted into Poon Dong. Johnny Vang is shot and killed by Chico as Chev questions him, and Chev is knocked unconscious. Doc Miles uses his secretary, Dark Chocolate, to lure Poon Dong into his apartment to kill him and retrieve Chev's heart.
Chev is taken to Catalina Island where El Huron awaits. It is revealed that El Huron is the brother of Ricky and Alex Verona, both of whom Chelios killed. El Huron also reveals that Ricky Verona's disembodied head is being artificially kept alive long enough to watch El Huron kill Chelios. Orlando, Venus and Ria suddenly arrive with backup, and a shootout ensues, killing most of El Huron's men. Ricky Verona's head is killed during the melee. As he starts to slow down, Chev climbs a nearby electric pole and grabs a pair of live wires to recharge, being set on fire by the massive current. He returns fully powered and beats El Huron to death. Due to a hallucination caused by the electric currents, he sees Ria as Eve and kisses her, inadvertently setting her ablaze. Chev walks towards the camera and gives the audience the middle finger.
During the end credits, Doc Miles replaces Chev's heart. Chelios's eyes open and his heart monitor indicates normal activity.
- Jason Statham as Chev Chelios
- Billy Unger as young Chev Chelios
- Amy Smart as Eve Lydon
- Efren Ramirez as Venus
- Dwight Yoakam as Doc Miles
- Reno Wilson as Orlando
- Clifton Collins, Jr. as El Huron
- Geri Halliwell as Karen Chelios
- Art Hsu as Johnny Vang
- Bai Ling as Ria
- David Carradine as Poon Dong
- Corey Haim as Randy
- Keone Young as Don Kim
- Julanne Chidi Hill as Dark Chocolate
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Ricky Verona
- Yeva-Genevieve Lavlinski as Pepper
- John de Lancie as Fish Halman
Celebrity cameos include Ron Jeremy, Ed Powers, Jenna Haze, Nick Manning, Lexington Steele, Chester Bennington, Glenn Howerton, Maynard James Keenan, Danny Lohner, Keith Jardine, Lauren Holly, and Lloyd Kaufman.
The modest success of Crank at the box office and on home video had opened the possibility of a sequel for Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Even so, Neveldine and Taylor initially refused to direct one when approached by producer Skip Williamson of Lakeshore Entertainment, explaining that they had already "killed" Chev Chelios at the end of Crank, making the idea of a sequel preposterous. Instead, Neveldine and Taylor agreed to write the screenplay and stay on as producers. After the script was completed, however, they agreed to direct as they believed no other director could possibly make what they had written. "We were going to write it, produce it and move on to something else. But by the time the script was finished, we had fallen in love with it and we were not going to let anyone else touch it," said Taylor.
Filming lasted 31 days in Los Angeles, from April 28 to June 9, 2008. Locations that were used include the Port of Los Angeles, Inglewood, East and Downtown Los Angeles, and the Los Alamitos Race Course where the sex scene between Chev and Eve was filmed. To achieve the same "hyper-kinetic visuals" of the first film, Neveldine, Taylor and cinematographer Brandon Trost acted as camera operators and photographed using "prosumer" high-definition camcorders including Canon's VIXIA HF-10 and XH-A1. The size and weight of these cameras provided the directors mobility (especially when Neveldine filmed chase scenes with Rollerblades on), and allowed them to capture from hard-to-reach areas and wrap filming quickly. Specialty rigs were also developed for the film, one of which was a piece of speed rail bent 180 degrees and mounted with a total of eight cameras that lent a bullet-time look reminiscent of The Matrix. Although the film looks noticeably handheld, Fig Rigs were used to keep scenes as stable as possible. Nearly 300 hours of footage was shot by the time filming was completed.
Crank: High Voltage opened in 2,223 theaters in North America and grossed $6,963,565 with an average of $3,133 per theater and ranking #6 at the box office. The film ended up earning $13,684,249 domestically and $20,876,328 internationally for a total of $34,560,577.
The film was not screened for critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported a score of 64%, with an average rating of 5.90/10, based on 70 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Crank: High Voltage delivers on its promises: a fast-paced, exciting thrill ride that doesn't take itself too seriously." On Metacritic, the film earned "mixed or average reviews," with a weighted average of 41 out of 100 based on 15 reviews. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "C-" on a scale of A to F.
Critics assessed the film in comparison to the original, to mixed reactions. The Hollywood Reporter critic Frank Scheck said it "follows the same formula as the first, with one difference: They've managed to ramp up the action and vulgarity beyond the insane heights of the original". Chris Tilly for IGN UK said that "if anything, is even more outlandish and ridiculous than its predecessor". Rob Nelson for Variety wrote, "Yet another D.O.A. for the ADD era, Crank: High Voltage rewards the sizable cult audience of 2006's Crank with more of the same, only stupider." The New York Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis called it "boorish, bigoted and borderline pornographic" like the original. Both Stephanie Zacharek and Alexander Larman criticized how the sequel had dropped the "good-naturedness" of the original in favor of shocking the viewers with excessive profanity and mayhem; Larman said that "the sequel seems content to wallow in mean-spirited unpleasantness, apparently on the grounds that not enough films these days feature, say, graphic genital torture or a man slicing off his own nipples".
Nelson opined that the film is "otable for being perhaps the first pic to feature an anal rape by shotgun (among countless other atrocities)", and called the public sex scene "borderline pornographic". Tilly noted the influence the Grand Theft Auto video game series had on the film due to its bloody violence and mayhem, commenting that "oth the hunter and the hunted kill everything in their sights, resulting in blood-baths all over town". He and Zacharek considered both the anally-inserted shotgun and nipple self-mutilation scenes as some of the most unpleasant moments in the film, though both critics were divided on their reactions to the directors' approach in conveying these images. Tilly opined, "It's as if writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have seen that people liked the holy trinity of sex, violence and bad language of their first film, and so injected ever-increasing amounts of all three into the sequel"; Zacharek was otherwise critical, writing, "The first time around, Neveldine and Taylor treated the movie's cartoony violence as a sick joke; this time around, it's an applied science, and the strain of their efforts shows". Adam Markovitz for Entertainment Weekly, however, complimented the film as "an eye-popping strobe of flesh and blood" albeit polarizing. Scheck wrote, "From Chev's sticking a shotgun barrel up a bad guy's ass to his final turning toward the camera to give the audience the finger, the film makes clear that subtlety is not part of the equation."
Some critics were displeased with how the film treated minorities. Catsoulis said the film "vigorously abuses Mexicans, Asians, women and the disabled with equal-opportunity glee". Larman pointed out what he saw as "extreme misogyny and racism", citing one usage of the racial slur "chink"; he noted that although "nothing should be off limits in comedy", the film only amounted to "flashy, arrogant emptiness". Zacharek found the homosexual jokes "particularly unsettling", and said the film treated Efren Ramirez's new role "as if he's as worthless as the women". Scheck wrote, however, "What makes all palatable is the comic lunacy injected into the proceedings, which often take on a decidedly surreal quality."
The film's visuals were also a subject of criticism. Nelson wrote, "As in Crank, high-def video shooting lends a suitably garish immediacy to the frenzied action. The directors are content to replay the same Red Bull six-pack aesthetic — rack zooms, split-screens, and whiplash pans aplenty — with been-there-done-that disinterest." Zacharek complained that the actresses were "made to look as cheap and ugly as possible" by being "shot in hard light that highlights every skin flaw", and that the "choppy" camerawork made Jason Statham barely noticeable. Markovitz, however, said the film "is as visually stunning as it is absurdly offensive".
Zacharek said Statham lacked the energy and charisma he displayed in the original, lamenting that the sequel made him " miserable, as if appearing in this lousy picture just sucked all the heart right out of him". Some critics, however, praised Statham's performance; Scheck said the actor "anchors the proceedings with his simmering charisma and impressive physicality", while Tilly called it one of his best efforts "with little seeming regard for his own physical well-being".
Crank: High Voltage was released via DVD and Blu-ray on September 8, 2009 in the United States. At the DVD sales chart, Crank opened at No. 2, selling 305,000 units which translates to $5,345,078 in revenue. As per the latest figures, 827,000 units have been sold, acquiring revenue of over $15 million. This does not include Blu-ray sales or DVD rentals. In Germany, the uncut DVD and Blu-ray was indexed on March 31, 2010.
Regarding a third film, actress Smart said "It's been talked about." Smart also noted that Crank 3 might be made in 3D. During an 'Ask me anything' on Reddit, Brian Taylor gave a possible 2013 release date for Crank 3. In March 2015, Statham gave an update on the sequel, saying that he'd love to do it and he was waiting for Neveldine and Taylor to "get their heads together." Statham stated that Neveldine and Taylor "have a loose idea. They haven’t written the script." In January 2018, Brian Taylor stated it would "be a while" until there was a Crank 3 due to profitability concerns and high expectations.