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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Crank (review)

Hel-lo, Jo-king!

Rated I for nonstop ironic depictions of cartoonish violence so over the top that it feels like that’s it, stick a fork in Hollywood, it’s done; for a scene of sexuality so perverse, so gratuitously contrary to all understanding of human decency that you can’t believe they got the cast to agree to perform it; and for pervasive, generalized antisocial mayhem. Some material may not be suitable for anyone not consumed by a jaded, cynical despair at the state of, you know, everything, or for anyone not already so thoroughly convinced we’re so far beyond the point of no return, speaking from a perspective of common civility and decorum, that how can one more tongue-in-cheek trashing of all norms of goodness and kindness and sweetness and huggability possibly do any more harm?

Is it possible that a movie so utterly without redemptive value, so completely, pointlessly uncalled for, can also be, you know, kinda fun? Cuz that’s what Crank is. It’s a horrendous attack on everything moral and right and reasonable and civilized, a deplorable affront to anything soulful and cuddly and worth opening your vulnerable and tender human heart for, and yet it’s really sort of a hoot.
Have I finally lost it? Has Hollywood finally lost it? Is this the final sign of the impending apocalypse, the one that at long last and after much trial makes sweet baby Jesus put his fist down and say “Enough is enough, medammit, it’s past time for a reckoning”?

It might be.

And yet: Hee hee. The hero getting a blowjob in the midst of a high-speed car chase slash gun battle. Could there be, I ask you, anything more pointedly satirical with regards to Hollywood’s pandering to adolescent male “tastes” while also simultaneously itself pandering to that same demographic? It’s evil, and yet, you must applaud.

If only we could restrict the viewing of this film to those who will see it as satire and not as, you know, not satire. Because, dear sweet baby Christmas Jesus, no one should see Crank who cannot appreciate it purely as sarcasm, purely as metacommentary on how Hollywood flicks revel in destruction and misogyny and psychopathy. Because without that level of detached intellectualism, Crank is merely raising the bar on the kind of destruction and misogyny and psychopathy movies must reach in order to please audiences of idiot teenaged boys of all ages and genders.

I shudder to imagine the poor child who can only holler with bloodthirsty glee at this movie. I wouldn’t want to be left alone with such a person.

You have to be able to understand, see, that it’s not that our ultimate and decisive antihero, hired killer Chev Chelios — played by Jason Statham (The Pink Panther, Cellular), who is just about singlehandedly creating a new genre, “thug cinema” — actually wants to play demolition derby in a shopping mall or crash motorcyles into sidewalk cafes or run around downtown Los Angeles near butt naked in a hospital gown or blast himself with cardiac paddles or get a blow job in the middle of a high-speed car chase slash gun battle and so on. It’s not like he enjoys these things or anything. It’s that he must keep his adrenaline up to counteract the “Bejing cocktail” of poison one of his enemies has pumped into his body. The technobabble doesn’t matter — the point is that this is all simply a matter of life and death. He has to commit a wide variety of crimes and leave a wide swath of physical and psychic ruin in his wake if he is to survive the day. Who couldn’t identify with that? You or I or anyone would do exactly the same.


Also, Efren Ramirez, who was Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite, appears as Chev’s crossdressing informer pal, so you can tell this is all a big joke.

It’s the people who don’t get the joke, the ones who will genuinely find it a turnon that Chev has to fuck his pretty, innocent girlfriend (Amy Smart: Bigger Than the Sky, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) in public — just for the livesaving adrenaline rush, of course — that worry me.

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MPAA: rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexuality, nudity and drug use

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
  • Sarshi

    Can’t find the “contact me” place, so I’ll just write this here.


    I can’t believe you watched (and reviewed) so many movies! WOW! WOWOWOW!

    O_O again:

    I can’t believe you haven’t reviewed don Juan de Marco. That’s a classic…

  • MaryAnn

    The “email me” link is right at the top of the page in the “who I am” section.

    And that’s what film critics do: we watch lots of movies. Can’t imagine why you find that so surprising. And yet, we still can’t review everything.

  • Brett

    Hate to be one of those “Well, actually…” wankers, but here goes:

    The lovable little Efren Ramirez played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite, and not Pablo. “Vote for Pablo” doesn’t have quite the same trippingly-off-the-tongue and iron-onto-the-shirt ring to it, unless we’re talking about Columbian drug dealers.

    Keep up the good work, MaryAnn. The site’s always entertaining.

    I did wish, for a very brief moment, that I lived close enough to New York to check out your Snakes On A Motherfarkin’ Fark parties. But Australia’s just a little too far away…

  • maxwell horse

    When I saw the ads for this I thought to myself, “Gee, it’s nice to see the guy from Just Shoot Me and Galaxy Quest getting some work.”

  • MaryAnn

    You’re right, Brett, about the Pablo/Pedro thing — I fixed it.

    I hope my point still came across.

    Maxwell: Who’s the guy from *Galaxy Quest* in *Crank*?

  • Maxwell Horse is thinking of the guy from “Veronica Mars” and “Just Shoot Me”, Enrico Colantoni. That’s not Enrico, Maxwell. And no, it’s not the guy from “Shaun of the Dead”, either. The guy in “Crank” is Jason Statham from “Snatch” and “The Transporter”. Yes, they’re all white guys who lack hair, but not necessarily the same person.

  • MaryAnn

    Enrico Colantoni is awesome. But he’s not in *Crank*…

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