I have a new post up on Overthinking It today: The Three Faces of Crank. I unpack the rich, intricate subtext behind the 2006 action flick, just in time for its sequel this weekend.
Chev Chelios (Statham) wakes up as the movie begins. He lives in a gorgeous apartment in an L.A. high-rise – exposed brick, big flat screen TV, lots of windows and ambient light. He soon learns that he’s been poisoned with the “Beijing cocktail” – a synthetic drug blend that blocks his adrenal receptors (”if you slow down, you die!”). Taking to the streets, he makes a series of phone calls and visits – to a local snitch, to a hoodlum on the other end of town, to the guy who injected him with the poison, to a street doctor who might have a cure. And, of course, to his girlfriend.
He reaches all of these people except his girlfriend, Eve (Amy Smart) – a sun-kissed California stoner who sleeps in late and gets easily distracted. After several mega-doses of drugs to keep his heart racing, Chelios gets to his girlfriend’s cozy, homey apartment. She doesn’t know what he does for a living, apparently, so he tries to act casual as he scoots her out of the apartment. She refuses to be hurried, though, asking him to go fix her microwave while she gets dressed.
While playing with the microwave, the drug-induced high that’s been pumping his adrenaline starts to wear off. Panicking, Chelios slams his hand in a hot waffle iron.
(1) While running around, assaulting the people who tried to poisoned him and keeping his heart rate up, Chelios cannot reach his girlfriend. He can reach everyone else he needs to – the snitch Kaylo, the doctor who diagnoses him, even the man who poisoned him – but not her. It’s only after he crashes a motorcycle – entering a period of relative calm – that she calls him back. But remember, in the language of film that Crank employs, calm equals death.
(2) When confronted with the trappings of domesticity – fixing the microwave, waiting for his girlfriend to get dressed so he can start his day – Chelios literally starts dying.