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Crank Reviews

With a premise ripped off from D.O.A. (1950) and a twist lifted from SPEED (1994), this Jason Statham vehicle from a two-man writing-directing team billed as "Neveldine/Taylor" manufactures a formula that guarantees maximum action but not much else. Crime-syndicate hit man Chev Chelios (Statham) comes to in his apartment with a baseball-sized lump on the back of his head and a disc in his DVD player explaining that while he was sleeping, a thug named Ricky Verona (a hammy Jose Pablo Cantillo, who appears to have taken notes from Cuba Gooding Jr.) has injected him with a "Beijing cocktail," a "hi-tech, sci-fi, synthetic Chinese" drug that acts as a powerful adrenaline inhibitor and will kill Chev within the hour. Chev isn't exactly sure why Verona would want him dead, but it seems to have something to do with a recent job targeting Hong Kong triad boss Don Kim (Keone Young). With his heart already slowing, Chev leaves messages with his doctor (Dwight Yoakam) and his girlfriend, Eve (Amy Smart), then tears out onto the streets of L.A. in an attempt to reach Verona and hopefully, an antidote. As the adrenaline starts coursing through his system, Chev realizes that the effects of the drug are diminished, and that as long as he keeps himself stimulated, he can delay the inevitable. The trick is to make sure that he, like the bus in SPEED, never slows down, which means Chev blasts his way through an L.A. filled with the lowest ethnic stereotypes imaginable in an attempt to stay alive. He drives his car into a mall filled with shoppers; has sex with Eve on a crowded Chinatown sidewalk; feeds a hapless Middle Eastern cabdriver to an angry crowd of Angelinos after telling them he's a member of Al Qaeda; wreaks havoc in a hospital; and snorts nasal spray containing epinephrine — synthetic adrenaline. Neveldine/Taylor throw in every visual flourish they can think of (is that really a clip of turtles mating projected on the hotel bathroom's ceiling?) and it's so up-to-date the film even uses Google Earth for establishing shots. The whole thing whizzes by in such a panicked rush that there's no time for anything so immaterial as character, but what little we do learn about Chev works against the film: He's such a despicable sadist you're left hoping he doesn't live to see another day.