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The question isn"t whether Jason Statham knows how to Crank things up. The question is whether or not you"re willing to go with him on yet another highly implausible, blood-soaked, adrenaline-pumped ride. Heck, yeah!


When dealing with Crank, the word "adrenaline" should be taken quite literally. When Chev Chelios (Statham)--an L.A. hit man trying to get out of the biz--wakes up one day, he discovers he has been poisoned with some Chinese synthetic drugs called a "Beijing cocktail" and has scant hours to live. The only way he can stay alive is if he keeps his adrenaline pumping so his heart won"t stop. Of course, driving fast to hunt down and kill the bad guys who"ve done this to him helps, but Chev also has to drink a lot of Red Bulls, sniff nasal spray which contains ephenephrine, get a shock from a heart defibrillator and even try to have one last tryst with his girlfriend (Amy Smart) in the middle of a crowded Chinatown marketplace. It"s a tough job but somebody"s got to do it.


One thing you can say about Statham: He sticks with what he knows best--and this hunky Brit seriously knows how to kick ass. Having got his start as one of Guy Ritchie"s cronies in films such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, his surprising hit solo effort The Transporter transformed Statham into true-blue action star, and he hasn"t looked back. He"s just got the whole persona down pat—the glower, the non-communication, the brawn. Oh, boy, does this guy have a physique. In Crank, he isn"t as cool and doesn"t get to do nearly as much hand-to-hand combat, but he"s still believable attempting completely unbelievable stunts. And Smart (Just Friends) holds her own as Chev"s ditzy girlfriend and is even pretty fearless with the verrry public display of affection she shares with Statham.


You know exactly what to expect going into Crank. The plot is totally ridiculous, the action far-fetched and clichéd, but at least first-time writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have the smarts to visually take Crank in different directions. Using two directors who aren"t brothers but just good friends might be a positive trend in filmmaking. It"s obvious they can bounce ideas off one another. And it"s also obvious the Crank guys are avid students of such filmmakers as Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers. With the film, they incorporate varying editing techniques such as split screens and clever cross fades, as well as jerky camera moves--as Chev is running quite literally for his life through the streets--and grainy, yellowed flashbacks. Let"s just say, the film never really stops moving itself.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 1/2 stars.