Crank (18)

My heart belongs to Jason
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The Independent Culture

Crank transplants the gimmick of Speed from a bus to a human being, so it has a hitman, Jason Statham, being dosed with a poison which will kill him if he doesn't keep his system flooded with adrenaline.

Desperate to push his pulse rate up until he can locate an antidote, or at least get his revenge on the poisoners, he careers around Los Angeles, glugging Red Bull and snorting cocaine. And if he has to sandwich his own hand in a waffle iron to raise his beats per minute, then so be it.

With its digital-video aesthetic and questionable taste, Crank is destined to be a cult hit rather than the mainstream smash thatSpeed was, but the fact remains that it makes Keanu Reeves's film look like Driving Miss Daisy. Its writer-directors are fully aware that the story, like its hero, will keel over if it slows down for a second, so they pour in jokes and stunts, and then they top them up with split screens, freeze frames and zooms. It's the kind of rowdy, outrageous B-movie in which a car, on its side, is carried up the escalator in a shopping mall, and in which Statham fires a gun that's still gripped by its owner's severed hand.

As for the knuckleheaded protagonist, Britain's own action hero reveals a flair for deadpan comedy, keeping a straight face even when he's stealing a police motorcycle while wearing nothing but a polka-dotted hospital gown. This is how Statham's Transporter movies might have turned out if they'd been directed by Robert Rodriguez. In other words, Crank is Speed on speed.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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