Crank: High Voltage (2009)
Later Statham movies have managed to do to me what even Arnold's worst movies never managed to do: Kill my interest in watching more. Therein may lie the issue with his box office performance in anything where he is more or less the sole draw. He has some fantastic movies, but for every decent one, there are 2 throw away ones out there. The Transporter and The Italian Job made things look very promising. The 10 years since then? Not so much.
Please note that I'd not actually given up, just completely lost interest for a while after the back to back whammies of Transporter 3 and this turkey. I actually watched this about a month ago, just couldn't bring myself to write it up. So I went and watched seasons 1-14 of Survivor real quick instead of the next Statham movie. Ahem. But... due to a massive groundswell of fan support (ie, my friend Karl), I'll knuckle down and write this sucker up and get through the recent movies, none of which I've seen other than the two Expendables movies. They can't all suck, right? Right? Sigh...
Speaking of suck, let's discuss how badly sequels can go wrong. I loved Crank. It's crass and over-the-top, but it's unapologetically in your face, self-consistent, and damned funny. I also need to note that I have no issues with the plot device in either film. If the filmmakers say it's so, I'm good with that. What I do have issue with in High Voltage is the complete failure in execution. This smacks very much of one of those scripts that comes about during a late night booze or drug-fueled brainstorm by the director and his friends. The pacing is all over the place, the set pieces are goofy or pointless, and almost all of it goes that extra little bit too far. I'm very surprised that Mike Meyers or another Saturday Night Live alum didn't have something to do with this as it all feels like those skits that don't really have a punchline and drag on about 3 times as long as they should. Just because an idea strikes you as amusing, it doesn't mean you should make a feature length film out of it.
It's hard to list all the things that don't work well, so I'll just focus on two: Language and racism. I really don't mind a movie dropping the f* bomb a bunch as long as it's used for effect or fits a given character. Here it's almost like they were trying to hit a quota. It's constant, it's even sometimes non-sensical, and it doesn't enhance things in any shape or form. If you overuse it, it loses all impact and just becomes white noise. Secondly, I may perhaps be a little sensitive to Asian stereotyping as the father of two adopted Asian kids, but the handling of Asians in this is just stupid and pointlessly offensive. If you're going to do that, do it well, make something of it, and make it funny. But the one Chinese skank who chases Statham around and the whole attempt at a Chinese Triad connection serves no point other than to make fun of the stereotype pronunciation. Blazing Saddles used racial stereotypes to excellent satiric and comedic effect by turning the lens back on those who were saying those things. This is just mean and completely unfunny.
As for Statham himself. Well, he's in the movie. That's really about all I can say for it. Gone is the wry irony he played so well in the first. Gone is the excellent angst, attitude, and menace he showed. All that we're left with is a caricature of a caricature.
Badassery Quotient - 7
That should probably be a 10 just because of the amount of crazy going on in this film, but I have to subtract a few points for being distractingly stupid in the execution of said crazy.
Rewatchability - Fuck you
I'm quite surprised by just how much I disliked this. I knew what I was getting in for, I knew the gimmick, and I knew that it wasn't nearly as liked as the first. But damn. I'm not sure exactly where I'd rank this out of the Statham and Arnold movies I've watched this far, but the only things I think I'm less likely to watch anytime soon would be Batman & Robin or The Villain.
Up next - More Statham movies! Now that I've managed to catch up on the first 14 seasons of Survivor that I missed back when I was actively avoiding that show (more to come on that later), I'm back and ready for more abuse. "13" is next on tap. It doesn't look remotely promising, has Mickey Rourke in it, and has a pretty low IMDB rating. On the plus side, it's only 91 minutes long. Silver lining, etc, etc.