[Screen It]


(2009) (Jason Statham, Amy Smart) (R)

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Action: After his heart is removed and replaced with a battery-powered unit, a hitman must repeatedly zap himself with jolts of electricity to keep the artificial ticker going and allow him to retrieve the original organ.
When we last saw Chev Chelios (JASON STATHAM), he was plummeting toward terra firma from high above a city. Smashing into a car, he should be dead, but having previously proven he's quite durable, Asian triad foot soldier Johnny Vang (ART HSU) and his goons shovel him up off the street and take him to a brothel where he loses his heart.

Not to some woman there, but instead to a surgeon who removes his highly desirable organ and replaces it with an artificial heart powered by a portable and external electrical supply source. Escaping from there but then realizing his power source is running out of juice, he uses a car's electrical system to jolt his mechanical heart back into proper order.

After calling his friend and former surgeon, Doc Miles (DWIGHT YOAKAM), who states he can probably put the original heart back in place, Chev sets out to find Johnny Vang and get it back. Along the way, he has run-ins with a varied assortment of characters, including hooker Ria (LING BAI), thug Chico (JOSEPH JULIAN SORIA) and Venus (EFREN RAMIREZ) who suffers from "full body Tourette's." He also finds his girlfriend, Eve (AMY SMART), who thought he was dead and now works in a strip club for Randy (COREY HAIM).

As Chev leaves a line of bodies in his wake, he keeps climbing the triad's chain of command, eventually encountering leader El Huron (CLIFTON COLLINS JR.). Yet, he must repeatedly find ways to shock his artificial heart back into action, all while striving to get his original ticker back from an old mobster, Poon Dong (DAVID CARRADINE), who's enjoying his new and invigorated lease on life.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits or, more accurately, lack thereof. After all, life is too short to spend any more effort than that on a movie that even the releasing studio knows isn't any good (which is why they hid it from reviewers before its release).

Anytime a film goes out of its way to point out that it's purposefully over-the-top in terms of implausibility and ridiculousness, you know it's in trouble, and "Crank: High Voltage" - the sequel to the original "Crank" from 2006 - establishes both its tone and bad filmmaking from the get-go.

Yes, I understand it's supposed to be an outlandish, preposterous, and very adult-oriented, live-action cartoon meets video game experience. And you can't ask for better than Jason Statham as a top-grade, B-class action movie star to appear in it.

But the film is so over-directed and over-edited (not to mention offensive to just about everyone with any sort of activity taking place above the shoulders - even acknowledging its tongue planted firmly in cheek nature) that beyond possibly entertaining game-boys to some degree, it's only going to inspire headaches and motion sickness nausea in anyone else unfortunate enough to stumble into it. "Crank: High Voltage" rates as a 1 out of 10.

Reviewed April 17, 2009 / Posted April 17, 2009

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