It’s a slow week for DVDs, with only one major theatrical release — a Jason Statham thriller — making its way to video stores.
Crank 2: High Voltage
0 stars (out of four) Bomb!
Rated R for frenetic strong bloody violence throughout, crude and graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
“Crank 2” is a rare breed of film, not because it’s bad but because it lacks value on every possible level.
The DVD cover, imprinted with a stern-looking Jason Statham brandishing a firearm, properly suggests a fast-moving action flick. Trouble is, “Crank 2” is also a soulless sequel, borrowing heavily from its predecessor while charging forward without stylistic restraint or purpose.
One gets the feeling writers-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were shooting for a dramatic comedy akin to Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” flicks, but Tarantino won’t make a movie this bad unless he loses both his sense of humor and style.
Statham is back as British hitman Chev Chelios, and fans of the first “Crank” will remember that he ended that movie by falling thousands of feet from a helicopter and bouncing off the roof of a car. Turns out he survived only so members of the Asian Triad gang could harvest his legendary heart for their ailing boss.
Fortunately for Chev, gang members give him an artificial heart to keep him alive long enough to harvest his other organs. The plan seems dandy until Chev regains consciousness, frees himself and starts a ridiculously over-the-top and violent search for his real ticker. Making his journey particularly difficult is the fact that his electronically powered replacement heart can only maintain a charge for limited periods, so Chev must repeatedly find ways to shock himself back into action.
“Crank 2” is loaded with so much violence, sex and profanity, that it qualifies as an exploitation film, but the nostalgic charm of old-school grind house efforts has been supplanted by a forced visual style that seems more experimental than planned. Because of this, “Crank 2” carries a marked sense of desperation, as though Neveldine and Taylor figured they would never be allowed to make another film, so they threw everything they had into the mix.
Even the usually reliable Statham is handcuffed by the project’s goofy, unrestrained nature. He looks tough and all, but his action sequences aren’t as cleverly staged as in the “Transporter” films, and the script is just terrible.
Poor Amy Smart takes the brunt of the punishment, as she’s asked to trot through one embarrassing sequence after another as Chev’s sexy but dim-witted girlfriend. At least she can take solace in the fact that nobody looks good in this movie. Neveldine and Taylor made sure of that.
“Crank 2” is available on multiple home video releases, including a two-disc edition with a digital copy for portable devices and computers. Extra features vary.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
“The Office” — Season Five: This quirky sitcom exploiting the personalities and working relationships of co-workers in a Pennsylvania paper supply company, is one of network TV‘s biggest hits. Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer star.
“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” — The Complete First Season: This co-production between the BBC and HBO brought Alexander McCall Smith’s novels about the first female detective agency in Botswana to life on the small screen. All seven episodes, plus extra features, are presented on a 3-disc set.
“Homicide”: The Criterion Collection is delivering a director-approved edition of writer-director David Mamet’s 1991 thriller about a homicide detective (Joe Mantegna) on the trail of a murderer and drug dealer (Ving Rhames). William H. Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon also star.
“Fringe” — The Complete First Season: Season two of this drama about FBI agents working on the fringe of traditional science will kick off Sept. 17. That doesn’t leave much time to pick up this set and catch up.
“The Human Condition”: Adapted from a six-volume novel, this nine-and-a-half-hour Japanese film project delivers the story of a man who rises from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier. Directed by Mosaki Kobayashi, the saga was originally released as three separate films between 1959 and 1961, but the always-outstanding Criterion Collection has collected them into one impressive package. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.
“Harper’s Island” — The DVD Edition: The horror series — about a group of friends who travel to celebrate a wedding and end up dying one by one — only lasted 13 episodes, but that was enough to wrap up the loose ends. You’ll find the entire arc here.
“That Hamilton Woman”: Laurence Olivier plays a British Royal Navy officer having an affair with the wife of a British ambassador (Vivien Leigh) during the Napoleonic Wars. The 1941 film was produced and directed by Alexander Korda.
“Bedknobs and Broomsticks”: In this classic re-release from the Disney vault, three children take flight on a magical, musical journey with an apprentice witch (Angela Landsbury). Being sold as the “Enchanted Musical Edition,” the new release has a number of extra features, including bits on the special effects and music.
“Worst Week: The Complete Series”: TV comedy focused on a bad-luck magnet named Sam (Kyle Bornheimer) and the woman he’s about to marry, Melanie (Errin Hayes). When they visit Melanie’s parents, Sam accidentally creates one ridiculous problem after another. Although the program was consistently funny, it lasted only 16 episodes. That’s too bad for fans, but the cancellation may have been a blessing. The setup wasn’t broad enough to last for multiple seasons and the early cancellation means we’re left with only good episodes.
“Local Color”: Dramatic feature about a teen painter (Trevor Morgan) who convinces an aging master (Armin Mueller-Stahl) to take him under his wing for a summer. Written and directed by George Gallo.
Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at Forrest@ForrestHartman.com