In Crank, Jason Statham‘s character, Chev Chelios, had a good reason to pull of crazy stunts: He would die if he didn’t. There was a poison in his body that would send him to an early grave if he didn’t keep the adrenaline flowing. In Crank: High Voltage, Chev is told directly, multiple times, that performing strenuous activity will kill him. So he does it anyway, because this is an action film.
High Voltage picks up right where Crank left off, before quickly fast-forwarding three months. Chev Chelios, who is still alive, has his heart removed for reasons that are revealed later (but don’t matter). The doctors plan to remove other parts of his body, so he decides that he’s done lying on a hospital bed. He gets up, kills a few people, leaves and begins to get in touch with characters from the first film.
He decides that the best idea would be to hunt down the person who stole his heart. Most of the film plays out like an extremely long chase sequence, surprisingly not featuring any car chases. Oh, cars are used, but they are used solely as a means of transport, which was nice. He encounters his former girlfriend, Eve (Amy Smart), and gets in touch with his doctor (Dwight Yoakam), who informs him of his current situation. An artificial heart was put in Chev’s body, one that needs to constantly be charged up, or he will, once again, die. I wonder what happened to that poison from the first film, but it isn’t mentioned except for off-hand references.
This gimmick is far less effective than the previous one. For starters, we’re told that he should die if he exerts himself too much, meaning all of the running, jumping, shooting, and all the other typical things that happen in an action film that he does is counterproductive. In the first film, it was necessary. It also means that he has to constantly find something to recharge the battery of his new heart, which gets tiring after a while.
When the heart gets low is arbitrary as well. At some points, it will stay charged for twenty minutes. Others, it will be dead after five. And I checked—the action on-screen does not impact the time it takes to become discharged. When it gets this way, we get to watch Jason Statham get zapped with electricity. I would guess that this would still hurt him, considering it’s still passing through his body to get to the heart, but instead it turns him into the equivalent of a superhero for a few minutes.
But this difference in what Chev needs to do in order to stay alive is essentially the only main difference between the first Crank and this one. Here, you get almost the same thing, just bigger and louder. There are scenes that have identical set-ups, such as the public sex scene, a random gang showing up to have a big gunfight, and a couple of characters functioning the same way they did before, performing all of the same functions that they did before. If the first Crank felt original, this one will feel like the reheated leftovers.
Crank: High Voltage has its main character getting jolted a whole bunch of times with electricity, but that’s the only electrifying moment in the entire film.
Although I don’t think anyone would call the first Crank “realistic,” it wasn’t all that far-fetched when you think about it. It was at least believable, and you could understand how something like its plot could occur in real life. You know, as long as we get a lead character seemingly made of titanium, stupid characters who go along with his crazy schemes and likely the worst police officers in the world. This time around, Chev is more like a comic book character, and the film completely loses its touch with reality. In fact, it does this completely in one scene, turning two combating characters into giants, while dolls representing two construction workers watch on.
Somehow, I still don’t think this matters to many of the people who are going to watch Crank: High Voltage. I wager that most of them will just want an action movie that has gunfights, fist fights, and other types of fights all throughout that will keep you entertained for an hour and a half. Who cares if it makes sense? Well, I do, although I doubt others will. And I suppose, if all you want is a mindless action film, you could do a whole lot worse than High Voltage.
The action scenes and set-pieces in this film are actually quite well-done, just like they were in the first film. Gone is the poor CGI, which was distracting last time around. The action scenes aren’t as creative though, mostly because they’re just rehashes of the ones in the first film, with more emphasis being placed on guns. But they function in being entertaining, which is their only real purpose.
What High Voltage misses is the humor that was found throughout most of the first film. I was laughing quite a lot the first time around, but for a franchise that prides itself on taking itself too seriously, High Voltage was a bit too serious. The moments of levity and joy were gone, which just left an action movie with people getting shot and dying in its wake. I mean, it’s still somewhat entertaining, but it’s not the same.
Crank: High Voltage has its main character getting jolted a whole bunch of times with electricity, but that’s the only electrifying (Get it? Yeah, the film pulls that pun on you as well.) moment in the entire film. Sure, there are some entertaining fight scenes, but they don’t pop off the screen like they did the first time around. High Voltage follows the formula set down by the first film to a tee and I think that is the main reason it isn’t as good. We’ve seen it before, and it isn’t as fun the second time around.
Conclusion: Crank: High Voltage is still fun, but it lacks the freshness of its predecessor.
Recommendation: If you liked Crank, this is more of that, so you’ll probably enjoy it, too.