Immediately, the pacing of Crank 2 stands out: in the original, every time that Chelios' heart slowed down, the events of the film sped up, adrenaline-style, as Chelios had to engage in more furious and daring action to keep his "strawberry tart" going. As he steps out into the bright sunlight, to a wicked score by Mike Patton, Chelios feels all right. In fact he feels pretty good. He has a battery pack around his waist that's going to keep his heart beating regularly. Only after his heart slows down, after he gives a shotgun anal probe to a henchman, does Chelios notice that the little green lights on his battery pack are diminishing. He gets a little juice from the car that he hotwires, and during his escape, Chelios calls a surprised Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam), who's interrupted from his butt slapping of his assistant, Dark Chocolate (Julanne Chidi Hill), to get another cell-phone diagnosis: once that battery-pack dies, Chelios's artificial heart will begin to run on a temporary internal one. Chelios will have less-than-an-hour's juice to go on. Find your heart, Chev, says Doc Miles, and I'll put it in for you. The pacing of the film mimics Chev's condition again: this time Crank 2 moves at a relatively leisurely pace, punctuated by some intense action when Chelios needs to get a dose of electricity. After Chelios crashes through his getaway car windshield his battery pack is kaput. Where the hell is Johnny Vang?While Crank had some colorful, comic-book characters, the pacing of Crank 2 allows for more of a display and insight into some of these characters, including the addition of a few new ones. At the local "social club," Chelios rescues Chinese prostitute, Ria (Ling Bai), who is immediately smitten with her savior. Her outlandish broken English is often subtitled, and Ria is a kinetic addition of kink and nonsensical energy who helps Chelios out to find Johnny Vang. Poor Kaylo is no more, but his twin brother, Venus (Efren Ramirez), pops up. He's on a quest to avenge the death of his brother, but Chelios's tells him that he already taken care of that. Feeling a little pity for Venus (and getting himself some extra help), Statham's Chelios tells him that if he finds the guys that he's currently looking for, then Venus will get his revenge (albeit indirectly). Venus's mock heroics are hilarious and his character is a flamboyant and comedic addition to the action. How about Randy (Corey Haim)? Randy is the two-toned mullet-sporting boyfriend of Lemon. Who the eff is Lemon? Lemon is Eve (Amy Smart), who is now working the pole at a gentleman's club, since Chelios was supposedly dead. Haim's Randy is little more than a cameo character. However, in his few scenes, the opportunity to see Haim act like a buffoon, again, with some truly hilarious dialogue is priceless. I grew up watching Haim, and it's good to see him ham it up again. Smart's Eve is more than eye candy here, and she has some terrific scenes again with Statham. She has a fantastic scene later with Randy and dishes out some of her own wicked action and one-liners throughout. Hsu's Johnny Vang is a psycho straight out of the Kakihara school of thugs and he's an excellent foil and nemesis to Statham's Chelios. A very special actor, who recently passed away, is amazing in a small but pivotal role. Finally, Clifton Collins Jr. plays "El Huron," a new crime boss who steals all of his scenes. Statham, Yoakam, and the rest of the players from the previous Crank are just as excellent here.
Despite a low budget, the duo of Neveldine and Taylor once again, stylistically are impressive. There are a bunch of creative scenes of Statham getting some juice, like jumping his nipple and tongue from a car battery to sticking his finger in a cigarette lighter in the back seat of a mobster's limo. Neveldine and Taylor push the ridiculousness of the story to excellent effect, especially when Chelios and Vang meet in an unexpected rendering of the two's confrontation or a fun sequence involving some sassy protesting strikers from a San Fernando Valley industry. Some excellent violent, bloody, and exciting shootouts occur (with Statham getting the opportunity to use another body shield in one of Crank 2's most impressive visual sequences). When Statham and Smart are together on screen, the action is always endearing and usually audacious. Crank 2 has multiple visual styles but unlike Crank, Neveldine and Taylor have refined their overall look, as the film feels more organic and seamless. The action and other ridiculously fun set pieces really stand out in this visual style. Not to mention Mike Patton's score (who I'm a huge fan of) which is absolutely brilliant.
Crank 2 is a worthy sequel to the original, and I hope that this duo keeps making sequels. Chelios's heart might not make it for any subsequent ones, but my heart is certainly with this talented writing-and-directing duo, skipping a beat in anticipation for their next film.