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Crank (DVD)

Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect)

Rated: 18

Story: Chev Chelios, a hitman, wakes up to discover he has been poisoned. The only way for him to stay alive long enough to exact some revenge is to keep his body pumped full of adrenaline. He goes about this by driving very fast, shooting lots of things and having some very public sex. Sometimes in combination...

Comments: This is, in essence, Grand Theft Auto the movie, complete with plenty of swearing, gory violence, shooting, stealing cars for convenience, videogame references and running to the next mission when nothing decent to drive has spawned nearby.

Like GTA, there's also a dark sense of humour but here there's more of a point to it all. Chelios rushes around leaving destruction in his wake as he searches for the next thrill, the next chance to be alive. He is so intent on reaching his destination, he never stops to think where he's going or what he's doing. He never has a chance to enjoy it. Crank is life on fast-forward with the parental safe-guards turned off. It's a call to take stock of who we are and of what we're doing to ourselves and other people in pursuit of gratification.

Or maybe I've spent so long trying to extract philosophical meaning from Teletubbies that I'm giving a tacky action film too much credit. It's certainly not without flaws. It's sometimes hard to tell whether the film's being ironic or serious. Sometimes the shock factor of the scenes can get in the way of the message. For instance, Crank pokes fun at the media for delivering us up-to-the-minute violence and yet it is, itself, a film that entertains through immediacy and violence. Then again, perhaps the whole thing just wouldn't work if it wasn't all so extreme.

On a more mundane level, the characterisation is poor and the dialogue merely serviceable. Statham reprises his Transporter role as a likeable, conflicted villain. He's obviously found his niche and is very effective. He's helped by the fact that the script tends to gloss over the fact that his character is a cold-blooded assassin. Smart is onto a loser from the beginning - her character is an idiot. No one else sticks around for long.

Conclusion: It's trashy and confused but there's genius in there somewhere. The more I think about it, the more I liked it.

Explosions: None.
Pace: Fast.
Outrage: High.
Ending: Slightly rubbish.
Statham's hospital gown: Flappy.
Suitability as a birthday gift for your gran: Low.

Rating: 4/5.

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