Wednesday, July 20, 2011

3 paragraphs (are almost 3 too many) on Crank 2


2010, Neveldine/Taylor - Netflix

Although I've never seen them or heard them speak, judging their films I imagine the Crank film series directors to be hyperactive 15-year-old boys, constantly sucking back Mountain Dew for a perpetual sugar high, sitting around writing their screenplay by imagining the most fucked-up (to a 15-year-old), coolest (to a 15-year-old), provocative (to a 15-year-old) scenarios they can come up with and then somehow working them all together into, well, not so much a story, but a partly cohesive sequence of events. Every single frame of Crank 2 (and if I recall correctly - which I don't because I've repressed that horrible experience like it was some form of abuse perpetrated upon me - the first Crank) is meant to be "provocative" or "rad" or "fucked up". Every. Single. Scene. And they are... to a 15-year-old.

From that first paragraph you can likely intone that I hate, hate, hated the first Crank film. So why, oh, why would I watch the second? After listening to the fantastic podcasting team from "How Did This Get Made" discuss the film it wasn't so much that I had to see it, but rather that I would challenge myself to see it. And boy, it was a challenge. I wasn't offended by the content of the film, nor by all the immature titillation, the juvenile gross-out humour, the excessive violence... what offended me was the films insistence that this was all somehow entertaining. Crank 2 is a tedious comedy pretending to be an action film, but it's humour levels reside around the "Not Another Teen Movie" range, which is pretty much the bottom of the barrel. There's no craft to it, though Jason Statham is, I have to admit, incredibly game, and incredibly giving, as is Amy Smart, both delivering their lines in a subdued manner amidst every other actor hamming it up to the ultimate excess. If these kinds of over-the-top action-comedies are to work, the actors need to ground their roles to juxtapose with the visual mayhem.

But even then, I'm not sure Crank 2 would succeed. It's as juvenile a fantasy as they come, edited as if the film itself had ADD, joined by a pulsating thrash soundtrack that combines metal, freeform jazz and dj elements, none of it effectively. It's quite possibly, next to the first Crank film, one of the worst a-list features I've ever seen, and yet I did watch the whole thing, almost like I had to see what they did next, all the while I could feel brain cells decaying as a result. It's not art, and it's really not entertaining, it's got no style, it's got precious little in the way of characterization or story to speak of... it's just a blitzkrieg of images and ideas loosely threaded together, so I guess in that respect it is indeed something. But I liken Crank 2 to the drawings produced by some askew teenagers, doodling vicious landscapes of skulls, body parts, breasts and bullets all over the backs of their binders and the insides of their textbooks, a seemingly endless morass of grim images tempered by the cartoonish presentation and a lack of any real style or skill from their creators. It would be impressive if it weren't so awful.