Neveldine and Taylor are quickly turning into personal favorites of mine. The first Crank film was a blast, Gamer was right up my ally and having just watched the sequel to the first Crank I can safely say that there isn't anyone in Hollywood that can match their spirit and flair when it comes to explosive action cinema. Crank 2 is every bit as good as the first film and then some. A perfect adrenaline rush with unparalleled entertainment value.
These past couple of weeks I've been busy catching up on American action cinema, but without too much positive result. Sucker Punch was a PG-13 bore lacking any serious action, Predators was a miscast disaster and The Expendables a rather iffy piece of 80s testosterone nostalgia. I still had a few films lying around (In Bruges and Transformers 2 amongst others) but not wanting to run out of steam I picked the remaining Neveldine/Taylor film, knowing the duo had everything to restore my faith in American action cinema.
Crank 2 is really a textbook example of what I believe is necessary to cook up a successful action flick. It is self-aware, exploitive of its own silliness, witty, in-your-face, focused on impact and brutally exhilarating. It doesn't spend too much time building up a decent story and whatever story is in there is exploited for laughs and extravagant action scenes, it does not take itself too serious (story-wise, action-wise it takes itself damn serious), and the film is all the better for it.
The film starts off where the first one stopped. Chev is of course not dead (how could he not survive that drop out of the helicopter), but he is captured nonetheless and brought to a back-room clinic where he is kept alive by people wanting to harvest his vital organs. Chev manages to escape, but not before his heart is replaced by a battery-operated substitute. Not a very pleasant way to live, so Chev goes after the guys who plundered his inner workings while keeping his body electrically charged in whatever way possible. Plausible? Not really. Entertaining? Hell yeah!
If you enjoy your action flicks moderately paced, Crank 2 will definitely not be your cup of tea. Visually there is a lot going on, from exaggerated stop-motion running sequences, to on-screen text and strange, unnatural filters. Almost every scene in the film is heavily stylized. The editing it snappy and chaotic, the camera work agile and all over the place. Not everyone will be able to stomach it, it's just too demanding and in your face, but I loved it to bits.
Even though the soundtrack is also quite hyper, it's just not up to par with the visual side of things. It might be that I expected a little too much from the music here, after all the electronic-themed score is pretty decent, but for someone who listens to electronic music day in day out it's just not as challenging and/or wickedly insane as it could've been. On the other hand, it keeps the blood pumping and creates a nice, energetic atmosphere, so it's definitely not all bad.
Jason Statham has a vital part in the success of the Crank franchise, his badass attitude and perfect delivery of one-liners drenched in lovely British accents are just perfect for his character. While the secondary roles range from plain freaky to quite amusing, they are only there to support Statham, allowing his some severe verbal and manual retaliation.
If you see both films back to back you might be a little disappointed by the many similarities, Neveldine and Taylor often revisit similar ideas in different settings, but in the end Crank 2 one-ups the first film on every level. A few scenes in particular stand out, like the classic Godzilla scene (major geek point earned) and the static electricity scene featuring the old woman, but to be fair the whole film is like a never ending string of memorable moments and one-liners.
You need a particular kind of humor to like the Crank films though, and if you want clean, clear-cut action cinema you could end up being disappointed. Crank 2 is not just rough around the edges, it's all edge from start to finish. There are some rather crude jokes, insanely ADD camera work and the whole concept of suspension of disbelieve is thrown overboard from the very start. To some this will sound like 21st century cinematic hell, to me, it's the stepping stone to a rosy cinematic future.
If you liked the first Crank film but thought it was just a little too tame, too restrained, not quite pushing things far enough, this sequel is sure to cater to your needs. If on the other hand you hated the first film, don't even think of watching this one as it won't be a pleasurable viewing experience. I myself absolutely loved this film, as it aptly displays the talent of both its directors and takes American action cinema to new heights.