Crank: High Voltage
Lionsgate Films
At the Showcase and Quality 16

Courtesy of Lionsgate

1.5 out of 5 Stars

Audiences had long given up on expecting anything different from Jason Statham movies other than ridiculous fight scenes and enough explosions to make the New Year’s celebration in Times Square look like an everyday backyard barbeque. But then, a few years ago, the first “Crank” movie came out. With its perfect comedy/action balance, insanely fast-paced tempo and hilarious puns and one-liners, “Crank” tweaked the action film formula enough to warrant a sequel had potential to be just as successful as the original. But “Crank: High Voltage” isn’t nearly as electrifying as its predecessor and falls drastically short of expectations.

“Voltage” continues where the first “Crank” left off, with Chinese mobsters stealing Statham’s heart and replacing it with an artificial one. He wakes up. He’s pissed. He wants his “strawberry tart” back. Of course something happens to the battery pack that periodically charges his fake heart, so Statham must resort to creative methods to “juice” himself (like creating static electricity by rubbing up on people).

There was always a level of absurdity when it came to the concept behind the first “Crank,” but at least it hovered around the “what if” line. “Voltage” crosses that line and then some. In “Voltage,” Statham — badass as he is — achieves a superhero-like status that makes him invulnerable to everything, including extremely high voltage power lines. This is a problem due to the same reason many people hate Superman: Nobody wants to see someone who just can’t die.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it feels segmented — action scenes and comedy scenes aren’t integrated cohesively like they were in the original. Some of the best aspects of “Crank” were the sporadic “what-the-fuck” scenes placed here and there. While never central to the plot, those moments were funny in an awkward way and definitely added to the experience. Like a little kid splashing paint on a white wall, “Voltage” throws these scenes in as often as possible without blending them in an appropriate fashion. They are over-the-top tasteless too, like one involving a fetishistic gay bar. The scenes aren’t witty or funny in any way and just distract the audience.

The levels of gore and raunchiness have been turned up in “Voltage.” The original had some, but nowhere near enough to make audiences cringe (after all, it isn’t a “Saw” movie). The sequel, on the other hand, relishes in blood and nudity. Ultimately, the extra filth strips the movie of what little class it had to begin with.

Watching “Voltage” just doesn’t feel the same as watching the original. The focus is scattered on multiple levels, Statham’s invincibility is hard to overcome and the debauchery no longer creates any entertainment value. The truly shocking aspect of the movie is that it ignores what worked with the first “Crank.” By reverting back to the same mindless formula, “Voltage” lamentably locks itself into the banal mold of another typical Statham movie.

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