In 24 hours, hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham, The Pink Panther, London) will die.  A rival gangster injected him with a fatal toxin from China.  The only way for Chelios to stay alive is to keep moving, which means as much adrenaline as possible.  If he stops moving, his heart stops and he dies.  So goes the premise for Crank, an amusing concept film that is a mixture of Oldboy, District B13, Run Lola Run, and The Transporter combined with generous helpings of Grand Theft Auto.  Crank is gleefully violent, misogynistic, and profane, and moves quickly enough that people tend to overlook how cliched it is.  Much of its success lies upon the shoulders of Statham, a large, charismatic performer who seems drawn towards characters and movies like these. Crank aims low, and wants to be nothing more than a fast guilty pleasure, and it succeeds in that respect.

Chelios knows that Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo, The Manchurian Candidate) poisoned him, and is pretty sure he is going to die.  He decides that he will exert every last bit of life he has to gain revenge on Verona, and to tell his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart, Peaceful Warrior, Just Friends) know that he is a gun-for-hire.  For writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, this basically means having Statham run into various locations and beat the hell out of everybody there.  It's simple and effective.  Chelios is a bad guy that everybody is rooting for.  Just to cement this fact, Neveldine and Taylor let Chelios realize that one way to kick start his heart is to have him snort large amounts of cocaine.  Chelios rampages across the city, and people he is presented as sympathetic, the audience roots for him.  Statham's gravelly voice and hulkingly buff body fly through doors, and his fists often meet other people's faces.

The filmmakers also add in lots of dark humor.  Eve comes off as a bit daffy, then they have an intimate moment in the middle of an intersection.  Later in the hospital, Statham's rear peeks out of his gown before he asks a medic for a "shocking" favor.  Neveldine and Taylor make sure that everything is consistently over-the-top so that it's obviously funny, instead of psychotic. They also do everything they can to give Crank a feeling of constant kinetic motion.  Snazzy editing, loud music, and weird angles combine to keep the audience engaged and paying attention.  They throw in some visual color tricks to help spice things up too.   The film plays like an extended music video.  Loud, and perfect for those with short attention spans.  The story has a surprising number of twists and double-crosses, and moves lightning fast.  Don't worry about missing something, since most of the characters explain everything, and something else comes along that is big and shiny to shift attention elsewhere.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 23 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexuality, nudity, and drug use.

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