It isn’t just that the 80s set such a high watermark for what true Hollywood spectacle could be, the explosive, hilarious, and often iconic films they simply do not make anymore. It’s also that they don’t make them anymore, and in their stead, the current standard for action movies, is PG-13 garbagio, the variety that make Taken i seem like a Luc Besson return to form.
They also made Crank feel like something illegal. Granted, Crank and Crank 2 are much more vulgar and disturbing than any Arnold classics ever were, and while they embody the same manly spirit (the only celebration of masculinity I’ll ever admit to appreciating), they push even further, which is unthinkable for our sanitized day and age.
What’s more, they’re high concept — and if you’re wondering why I’m kind of using both, or even think of them interchangeably, it’s because they’re both the same movie, only one is even crazier. Both see Chev Chelios (everyone just calls a Jason Statham character Jason Statham, so maybe if you call him something crazy it’ll stick) screaming and running through the streets, trying to keep his heart pumping with adrenaline. It’s a perfect premise for an action movie, an absolute vehicle for set pieces, because Chev has to effect set pieces to stay alive.
Whether that’s hold Glenn Howerton at gunpoint in a hospital, or kick some black ass, it does that noble thing of maximizing a given environment. Like how good kung-fu scenes are often contingent on the set, for the actors to bounce around on — and in Crank, these locations are the true, seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, as if Escape from LA were real.
Crank somewhat sets it up, and so Crank 2 doesn’t really have to deal in any setup, pushing that aside to focus on what’s at the strawberry tart of these movies, which is creative anarchy. The opening shootout scene is a clear thesis — it’s very video-game-like, and even though we’re not in control like GTA, we get the feeling that we’re nowhere near as clever as Chelios.
And he asks a guy where his strawberry tart is, and some helpful onscreen graphics appear to translate such British locutions. It’s a highly playful movie, one that uses graphics and incredibly graphic violence to keep moving forward, at all costs.