Friday, April 3, 2009

CRANK 1 in anticipation of CRANK 2

CRANK 1 is a film concerned with titillation, testosterone, extreme violence, cringeworthy images, and all out shock value. There is no message about the ills of society, just a fascinated, prolonged view of Los Angeles' horribly venal crime scene put to humor and extreme rock video editing. In the end the film's absolute vulgarity is something that should put the fear of the apocalypse into every human being.

That being said, the push (and loud Internet reception) for CRANK 2 is fascinating to me. Lion's Gate has been pushing CRANK 2 like there is no tomorrow. They update their Twitter daily with information on the subject. More and more pictures are showing up online. There is a game you can play on the SMS network where they text you every so often and you have to text back the word "voltage" to be considered for a thousand dollar prize. Their official CRANK 2 website proudly defies you to "type in a cuss word and get this bitch started." It is all an over the top celebration of some of the most exquisite nihilism to ever grace the big screen.

I saw CRANK 1 in the theaters when it was released, and the film made me squirm throughout. Most of the squirming was a result of knowing where the standard R-Rated line was and watching the film stomp right over it.

The new CRANK 2 trailers are all about Jason Statham's Chev Chelios now needing to be juiced up with electricity to keep his heart pumping. The idea of a man using his right nipple for the negative and hooking his tongue to the positive clamp of a jumper cable and having someone stomp the gas to give a charge is so over the top that it is funny. The idea of Chelios being beaten Rodney King style and then overpowering the police as soon as he gets some tazer juice is funny too. There are concepts like shotgun sodomy and an outright penisectomy that are cringe-inspiring as well. CRANK2 is looking like a brutal, cartoonish ride down dirtier gutters filled with even more concepts that will make us all twitch.

So I fired up my CRANK 1 DVD and watched it again, looking for that which is propelling me to part 2. As you probably know, CRANK is about a hitman who wakes up to a DVD with the words "F*CK YOU" written on it. As Chev Chelios watches the DVD he learns that he has been poisoned by some sort of "Chinese cocktail" that should kill him shortly. Chelios then goes on a rampage looking for the guy who poisoned him, and in the process learning that he needs to be adrenalized in order to prolong his life. The concept of adrenaline is explored through sex, street drugs and extreme behavior using cars, guns, knives, human shields, and more guns.

CRANK is nonstop trash. Every stereotype, every curseword, every foul gesture, and every bodily function is lampooned in one way or another. The violence is senseless and gratuitous. If there is a woman onscreen, there is no doubt that the camera will linger on her posterior or any of her exposed flesh. At points, the perversity is left for the viewer to figure out. An example of this happens towards the end of the film at the hotel where the final showdown takes place. There are two girls in a tar pit. One of them looks like she is possibly extracting tar from the other's face while squealing? I will never get it even though I went through that 3 second spot about 12 times. The officers of the LAPD are demonstrated as complete morons, and Chelios actually manages to steal a motorcop's bike while sporting a hard-on and a hospital gown. Hands are cut off, fingers are removed violently and in one particular scene, a gangster's hand is forced under the needle of a whirring sweat-shop sewing machine.

All of the cursing, explosions, blood and bullets lead to what can only be described as the only human moment in the movie--Chev Chelios' touching last phone call as he falls from a helicopter before landing in a parked car deathbounce.

Technically, there is no point to the story. Chelios was hired to kill a crime lord and is then double crossed by his employer. But at the end of the film, we learn that he never did kill the crime lord, and Chelios uses his "spared hit's" backup to bring about the absolutely spastic concluding firefight.

This film is a cacophony of teenage video game angst. When I say "video game," I am tapping into the truth of the whole concept. Video games are referenced constantly. Chelios tells his girlfriend that he is not a video game designer but a contract killer. The symbol for the men's room looks more like a character from STERN'S classic game BERZERK. As a matter of fact, one of the many dispatched henchmen in the game is seen playing BERZERK in the back of an armored Hummer.

CRANK 1 is definitely a fecal trumpet blast announcing the end of Western Civilization as we know it. There is no question that our society is doomed. I just hope I get to see CRANK 2 before we are all cast into darkness.

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