This movie will, if there is any justice in the world, go down in the history books as one of the most bad-ass movies, right up there with Fight Club. The opening title sequence, done in an 80's arcade game style with energetic rave music pounding, makes it apparent that the filmmakers are having fun, and it's hard for one not to get drawn in by their enthusiasm. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor borrow the premise of Dead on Arrival and transform it into the funnest action vehicle ever--Chev, a hit-man for hire has been poisoned with a new synthetic toxin from Hong Kong. The toxins in Chev's blood can only be slowed down by adrenaline. It's as simple as that: keep moving, keep fighting, stay excited or frightened, and you live.
Of course the pursuit of the man who poisoned him keeps him occupied with shootouts and car chases, but he still must find ways to keep himself alert in between. Robbing convenience stores of all their energy drinks, getting into bar fights, snorting coke, and sex are just a few of his impromptu solutions.
With a premise that seems to be expressly designed for non-stop action, there is always the risk (dare I say the probability) that the movie's creators will disregard the details and create something sickeningly superficial. Crank is an exception. The movie is overflowing with creative touches and hilarious dialog. It has great pacing, with just enough downtime in all the right places. What's more, it has good characters and good acting to boot. Chev's girlfriend is so endearing and cute there's no wonder why he would fall in love with her, and seeing the way he treats her there's no doubt that he has.
The plot is, ironically, difficult to understand toward the end, when the events leading up to the movie's beginning are revealed, but if you didn't mind the plot holes in Fight Club you'll have no problems ignoring the ones in Crank.
The movie's downside is its frequent post-MTV video editing. Going split-screen for phone conversations is one thing, but blending that second screen into the environment--projected on a wall or in the rear view mirror of a car--is another.
All things considered, this is the summer blockbuster that we deserve after several let downs. It's the perfect movie to see with a group of friends, but even alone I laughed out loud quite a bit. I would compare the experience to a mix between Pulp Fiction and Run Lola Run.