Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Crank.”
The Movie: “Crank”
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Carlos Sanz
Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Professional assassin Chev Chelios learns his rival has injected him with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 62 percent
Brown: It’s been a while, readers of the JOE-DOWN.
So, it’s about time we cranked out one of these movie reviews.
Anyways, in order to get Froemming and I back into the groove, I figured we go to a tried-and-true archetype: lizard brain action movie!
And since we’re big marks for the “Fast and Furious” movies, it seemed like a good idea to visit a favorite in Deckard Shaw himself: Jason goddamn Statham!
Now, I never saw “Crank” before this week, but I remember the premise vividly: Our lead has to keep his heart rate and adrenaline going or else he dies!
It’s the most mid-2000s plot ever. And after watching this movie, it is THE most mid-2000s movie ever. And I kind of love it for that.
And, Froemming did as well. The dude was gushing over this (REDACTED) movie before we got together for this review.
Froemming, give your initial thoughts while I put my hand in a hot waffle iron.
Froemming: Brown, you had me watch the greatest movie ever. Now, how the (REDACTED) are we gonna top this? It has everything. Adventure. Action. Romance. Banging a woman in public while being cheered on by bystanders.
I had never seen this movie, but like you, I was aware of it. Frankly, it looked ridiculous in a bad 2000s way. I was wrong, it was bad in a good 2000s way. And I am now ashamed I judged this book by its cover, even though the cover represents the movie 99 percent.
Also, they took the premise of “Speed” and said “maybe we just don’t have a bus.” They made the main character the bus. Which is so stupid it is genius.
Anyway, as I force Dennis Reynolds to shock me with those paddles they use on heart attack patients, why don’t you kick this off?
Brown: You know, I’m so used to picking movies that’ll piss you off, I forgot how much fun it is to make you happy once in a while, Froemming. Too bad I’m going to ruin that with my next pick.
So anyways, this movie begins in a haze. We get a first-hand look from our lead, Chev Chelios, as he wakes up in a stupor. After he gets a drink of water, he heads over to the TV. There’s a DVD waiting for him. He pops the sucker in, and … it’s not good.
Froemming: First, the DVD has a title and it is (REDACTED) YOU, which really lets us know what kind of movie we are going to see: An awesome one. Then when he watches it, he sees some goofball in his house injecting him with poison as he sleeps, as his hired goons watch like cuckolds.
Brown: This brings up a key point to this movie. Now, I’m not the deepest sleeper. I don’t know heavy a sleeper you are, Froemming. With that said, how (REDACTED) up must Chev Chelios have been to not wake up when A. There’s a guy monologuing for minutes on end around your slumbering body, and B. SOMEONE’S JAMMING A (REDACTED) NEEDLE INTO YOUR SPINAL COLUMN?!
Froemming: I am a pretty deep sleeper when I do manage to fall asleep, but I am pretty sure a needle going into my spine would wake me up.
Brown: Perhaps most importantly, why not just shoot Chev in the head while he’s sleeping. Or bludgeon him to death with the bat the guy’s brother was playing with in the video.
Because, dear reader, we have to be a goddamn James Bond villain instead of having a five-minute movie.
Our Bond villain here is named Ricky Verona, and he’s injected Chev Chelios with a synthetic Chinese drug that’ll kill him in one hour.
Froemming: They have this reason that it is revenge for Chev killing Don Kim. This is a plotline that keeps coming back and gets more and more baffling.
Brown: And now, Chev Chelios is on the hunt for revenge before the clock runs out. But, it’s not going well at the start. Chev nearly collapses while driving, only for his body to get it together after flooring the gas pedal.
Speaking of floors, when Chev interrogates a guy on Verona, he gets an energy boost from *checks notes* snorting cocaine off the floor of a public bathroom.
Hopefully the bathroom isn’t the one at Burger King that Humpty Hump got busy in.
Froemming: He is basically Flea in “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.“
Chev is going around yelling at people through much of the first part of the movie.
He yells at this guy he buys cocaine from.
Brown: He yells at this black man, then to get more adrenaline, Chev specifically says he’s going to kick some black ass. C’mon, Chev. Don’t be like that. I really wanna like you.
Froemming: He yells at his sidekick? Demanding to know where he was the night he got poisoned. Dude, your friend was having a blast at the club and you wake him up when he is hungover? Jackassery at its finest.
Then he tries calling his Mob Doctor, who is Dwight Yoakam looking suspiciously like Clint Howard in this movie. But the doctor is not in, he is having loud sex at a brothel I believe. He also calls his girlfriend to yell at her, but she is too stoned to answer the phone so she lets the machine answer for her.
When he finally gets through to his doctor, Dwight Yoakam’s medical advice is he needs to keep his adrenaline pumping nonstop or he dies. I would not trust my doctor if it was Dwight Yoakam. That way only lies trouble.
So, now the movie is basically me when I play “Grand Theft Auto,” only I do not listen to the uptempo stuff in the game, I listen to stuff like this when I am rampaging through Liberty City:
Brown: I compared this movie to one of the Trevor rampage missions from “Grand Theft Auto V.”
Also, we should mention two things:
- All this is happening because Chev Chelios is a hitman that killed a leader of the Triads. I don’t think they ever specify, but I think this hit was unauthorized.
- Chev finds out all this info about the drug from his doctor – who clearly went to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College with Dr. Nick – while driving his car through a (REDACTED) mall.
While at the mall, the car gets wedged in the escalator. I tell you man, people should fear and respect the escalator.
Also, this movie’s effects are somehow worse than the original “Terminator” back in 1984. “Crank” was made in 2006.
Froemming: This is the SECOND movie we have reviewed in which people drive into a mall. I think if we ever watch “The Blues Brothers” we will have hit every movie in which this happens.
Now, Chev goes to Don Carlito’s place, since he works for this guy and I assume Carlito authorized the alleged hit on Don Kim. This scene is only here for two reasons. One, to introduce Don Carlito in the most inorganic way a film could. And two, to show off more bewbs in this movie. This movie loves its bewbs.
But we do find out there is no cure for this poison and that his boss basically has set him up for the fallout of the killing of Kim.
Brown: This movie LOVES out-of-context boobs. The directors were like Kenny going into “Heavy Metal.”
Froemming: Chev now gets his sidekick, Kaylo, and heads to the restaurant where Verona’s brother is at. One thing about crime bosses, they sure do like to eat a lot.
Brown: I was waiting for that scene with the razor-thin garlic.
Confronting Carlito, Chev finds out there is no antidote AND that Carlito and Verona are now working together, which irks Chev even further.
Still on a quest for vengeance, Chev steals a cab. Now, that’d be something I’ve done hundreds of times in “GTA” games. However, Chev follows this up by screaming “Al-Qaeda,” which results in the poor taxi driver getting his bones broken by old ladies with canes. Seriously, they add cracking sounds to this.
C’mon, Chev. Be better than this, man. Be better than mid-2000s xenophobic America.
Froemming: It was at this point, I realized I was this watching the movie:
So, Chev gets a call from his doctor who tells him he should get some synthetic adrenaline and only to take a little bit, as it is super potent. So Chev drives to the hospital, budges in line at the pharmacy and asks for this highly controlled substance from the pharmacist like it was cough drops.
She correctly calls the cops on him.
Brown: You forgot two key things before the hospital visit.
There’s the part where Chev robs a convenience store and steals nothing but candy, stimulants and energy drinks in maybe the most 2000s scene ever put to celluloid.
Froemming: I am pretty sure this movie was shot in digital.
Brown: Don’t correct me.
And, there’s also the part where Chev kills Verona’s brother while Loverboy’s “Turn Me Loose” plays in the background. I was laughing so goddamn hard at this, imagining Chev jumping over a hay bale when he makes his escape.
Froemming: I had tears in my eyes laughing when he not only chops the guy’s hand off, he blows his brains out with the guy’s own gun…with his chopped off hand still holding the damn thing.
Brown: Probably didn’t help your laughing fit that the brother looks like modern-day Steven Seagal.
Froemming: I will just leave this here.
Now, at the hospital, the buzzkill pharmacist is calling the cops because a deranged man sweating profusely is asking for top shelf speed. Which I guess would raise some red flags. So what does our speed freak do? Why, he starts running around the hospital — in a hospital gown he put on the blend in that did not work for one second, but allows the filmmaker to show off Jason Statham’s ass — hiding from the fuzz.
Well, he ends up bumping into the Golden God himself, Dennis Reynolds, working as a medic, probably a way he can get his tools.
Brown: Frankly, Dee Reynolds would have been the better choice. After all, she took enough stimulants to have a heart attack.
So Chev gets a needle of epinephrine and, for good measure I guess, gets Dennis Reynolds to hit him with a defibrillator.
In an elevator, Chev
gets a video-game power-up shoots up five times more epinephrine than his doctor suggested. And this leads to *checks notes* a lot of half-naked Chev running through Los Angeles with a thunderous erection while the film is edited like a 1990s skateboarding video.
Froemming: I think the medical term is Murder Boner. Chev has a Murder Boner.
Brown: Chev then steals a police motorcycle from the CHiPS and goes to see his girlfriend, Eve.
That is, after he ghost rides the motorcycle and survives a helmet-less crash.
Chev should be next-level dead after this. This movie should have ended at five minutes if Verona was competent. And it should have been over at 39 minutes because Chev just had to go all Jesus Christ pose on top of a bike.
But hey, at least now we get to see a mid-2000s dream girl in Amy Smart walking around in her underwear.
Froemming: Well, Chev put in the cheat code for God Mode, Brown. And yes, Amy Smart is stunning in this, and hilarious as the stoned goofball who is not paying attention to anything Chev says. But I don’t blame her, he shows up dressed like he is part of the Philadelphia mafia:
Where did he find the tracksuit?
Brown: As Eve nonchalantly gets ready to leave, Chev’s power-up is wearing off. So to get more adrenaline, he sticks his hand in a hot waffle iron. Then, Chev distracts Eve and he kills two hired goons.
Froemming: I honestly think he had an accident while making moon waffles.
Or maybe the waffle iron was made by the good folks who gave us the Cornballer?
Brown: Look, I get that Eve is supposed to be a ditzy stoner. But good god, the woman has the awareness of a goldfish.
The two swing by a Chinese restaurant where Chev spills the beans: He’s lied about his career to Eve. Instead of being a video-game programmer, he’s a hired gun.
And, the Triad job he pulled? Apparently he let the target, Don Kim, live. No one has seen Don Kim since he met Chev, so they assume the Don is dead. Instead, Chev gave him the Marsellace Wallace treatment: Don Kim has lost his LA privileges.
Eve thinks this is all bullshit and thinks this is just an elaborate way for Chev to dump her.
The two start fighting in the middle of Chinatown. Chev’s adrenaline is wearing off, so how does he try to save his life?
By (REDACTED) his girlfriend in public. Like, bending her over a newspaper stand. Which is probably the most anyone has appreciated newspapers since the 2000s.
Froemming: Like Larry David, Chev decides to answer the phone in the middle of sex, and it is Kaylo telling him Verona is at some warehouse. Though we find out Kaylo is being forced to make this call, setting up an elaborate trap for Chev.
Chev runs off, leaving his girlfriend blue-balled in public. Not cool, Chev. Always finish what you start.
Anyway, he shows up at the warehouse and senses things are off. So, naturally, he climbs to the roof to sneak in. Only there is a goon up there he has to kill. But he put in the God Mode code, so none of this should worry him in the slightest.
Once in, he sees these hired goons of his now former-boss have killed Kaylo in a horrific fashion. And the leader of the hired goons tells him he should just let himself die, for everyone’s sake. Well, everyone’s sake except Chev’s. Which, Chev is not really into.
Brown: Yeah, a shootout starts when Chev sees Eve coming up a freight elevator. And showing how far Chev’s friendship gets you, he uses his deceased friend as a human meat shield.
Froemming, you do not have my permission to use my bloated corpse to save your own skin.
Froemming: Some friend you are.
Brown: Quick aside: How hilarious is it that when this movie does cutaways to show where Chev is going, they legit show Google Maps with a hastily made label saying where they’re going? Like, it has the Google watermark and everything.
Froemming: Obviously the studio spent most of the budget on cocaine.
Well, Chev and Eve escape and head to see Dwight Yoakam. Unfortunately for Chev, the news Dwight has is dire. He cannot cure him of this poison, despite saying multiple times the adrenaline is basically drowning out the poison and, in theory, through sweat and piss he should be able to kick this crap out of him. But theory and science is not what this movie is about. It is about action and murder and crazy ways to combine those two things. So Chev wants enough juice to be able to kill his nemesis once and for all.
Brown: Let’s not gloss over that Chev Chelios kills multiple men while getting road head. Also, he kills a man while having blue balls since Eve stopped before completion.
This movie was written by teenagers. And I hate that I didn’t watch this as a teenager.
Froemming: He blue balled her first in front of the Chinese restaurant. He had it coming.
Brown: No. Neither of them had it coming.
Brown: Chev finally gets to his doctor and the doc reiterates that he can’t help Chev. Dude’s going to die. So in one final attempt to enact his revenge, Chev calls Verona to set up one final meeting.
This hotel, naturally for this movie, is filled with dudes with guns and half-naked women in bubbles. I feel like we’re back in “Zardoz,” Froemming.
So at the hotel, it’s confirmed that Verona and Carlito are working with each other. And instead of finishing off Chev here and now, they DOUBLE DOWN on the Chinese poison tactic.
The roof is full of armed goons. Just (REDACTED) shoot Chev!
Instead, Chev starts pointing his finger like a gun. And sure enough, one of the goons is shot in the head.
I thought maybe that Chev got his ultimate power-up: The foam finger gun from “Dead Space.”
Instead, Chev has backup from Don Kim’s gang. And we get a big shootout. Verona gets his fingers blown off. Hell, there’s even a grenade at one point!
Froemming: I have questions, damnit!
- Why put the hit on Don Kim?
- Why did Chev let Don Kim live?
- What was the point of all this mob boss stuff? None of it makes a lick of sense.
You know what, I will let Michael Bay answer my questions.
Brown: During the shootout, Carlito heads to a waiting helicopter. Chev cuts him off, but Verona sneaks up and injects more of the drug into Chev’s neck.
… Why can’t you just shoot him in the back of the head, dude?
Froemming: I will let Michael Bay answer your question.
Brown: Verona kills Carlito and tries to escape on the helicopter. But Chev grabs onto the chopper and he and Verona fight in the sky while 2000s butt rock plays in the background.
It all comes to a head as Chev and Verona fall out of the copter and fight while in free fall.
Chev ends up breaking Verona’s neck in the sky. And while plummeting to his death, Chev calls Eve one more time to say goodbye.
He lands on and ricochets off the top of a car. His bloody head looking into the camera, we hear a heartbeat and see Chev blink.
He survived a free fall like he was (REDACTED) Peggy Hill.
This movie is so delightfully (REDACTED) stupid.
Froemming, let’s go to recommendations before my heart explodes from all the Red Bull I chugged.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Yes. This is a quintessential JOE-DOWN movie. It’s delightfully fun and all sorts of brain dead. Perfect popcorn movie.
Froemming: Not since “The Room” have I been this impressed by a movie Joe Brown has picked. It is amazing.
Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN:
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