Why I Think Crank Is The Best Jason Statham Franchise
Jun 29, 2023
Chev Chelios could beat Lee Christmas any day of the week!
Now that we're getting the sequel, The Meg 2, we can officially call The Meg a Jason Statham franchise.
And, cool. Like many people who love ridiculous movies, and as our review of The Meg said, I thought it was pretty decent. That said, no matter how good the sequel turns out to be, I don’t think I’d call it Statham’s best film series. Nor would I call The Transporter, Fast & Furious, or The Expendables his best series, either.
Nope, for my money, I’d call the Crank movies the best Jason Statham franchise, and I have five reasons why.
Oh, and spoilers up ahead.
First of all, can I just say that Statham’s character, Chev Chelios, has the most fun name to say out of any character ever? I mean, it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Chev Chelios, Chev Chelios, Chev Chelios. Okay, now that I got that out of my system, if you love one of Keanu Reeves’ most badass characters from the badass movie, Speed, (And seriously, how could you not?), then you have got to love the Crank series. Especially the sequel, Crank: High Voltage (which we reviewed pretty well), as it's essentially the idea of what if the bus in Speed was a person?
By that, I mean that CHEV CHELIOS (God, I love that name) has got to keep his adrenaline pumping in order to stay alive. In fact, this idea is kicked up to about a million in High Voltage, where he has to get his heart back, and is literally strapping batteries to his body to juice himself up or he’ll die.
This persistence just to stay moving really makes both movies feel propulsive and energized, and I really couldn’t see anybody else besides Statham in the role.
You see, the thing about the Crank series is that both of these movies totally hinge on his bonkers performances. You might say the same for The Transporter series, but how then do you explain 2015’s The Transporter Refueled, where they actually replaced Statham with another actor?
Sure, that movie’s not very good, but that just goes to show that the Frank Martin character could really be anybody. Whereas Chev really needs to be Statham. It would appear that nobody else can play a ticking time bomb better than him.
Jason Statham is known as a tough guy, and has been ever since he exploded on the scene in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. I mean, jeez, we just recently talked about Statham's big knives in Expend4ables. In other words, he is an action hero, par excellence. He’s the kind of guy you hire if you want somebody to look cool in front of explosions.
The Crank series is no different. But, here’s the thing. What makes the action here stand out is the fact that Chev is extremely vulnerable. This is a man who should be sitting in a hospital, waiting to see the doctor. Instead, he’s the kind of guy who’s leaping off the hospital walls and getting a defibrillator blast into an elevator.
Remember at the end of John Wick 3, when he fell off a roof? Well, Crank is too high octane for that. This is a series where our hero literally falls out of a helicopter to his death...Only to be brought back to life in the sequel, where the action is even more intense.
In fact, High Voltage’s action is so absurd (and awesome), that it has a full-on Godzilla moment toward the end. High Voltage has Chevzilla! That’s just another reason why Crank is Statham’s best franchise. It’s the only one that really let him be as expressive as possible, and for that, we should all be thankful.
Speaking of which, I love Jason Statham, but I find that I sometimes forget a few of the movies he’s even in. Like The Italian Job. I definitely saw it, but I forget his role in it. Or War, with Jet Li, where I vaguely remember a badass fight scene, but that’s about it. Same goes for The Mechanic, which I barely even remember at all. Hell, I even have to be reminded that he was in several of the Fast & Furious movies (and was even in the spinoff, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, with Dwayne Johnson).
What I’m getting at is that even though I really like him, I rarely tend to remember him in the movies that he’s actually in. I don’t think this is really a swipe against him. It’s probably more the fact that he’s been typecast as a tough guy in so many movies.
The Crank flicks are so frenetic and stylized, though, that I immediately think of them, and by extension, Statham, whenever I reminisce about balls-to-the-wall action movies that I used to love. I can’t say that about any other film in his career. I really can’t. The Crank series just comes out on top every single time.
These movies are definitely low brow humor, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a scene in High Voltage where Chev has to rub up against an old lady to get some friction, and it’s so corny, I find it hilarious. In fact, I find most of the material in these two films to be just really silly, immature humor, but you know what? That’s what makes them stand out.
One problem I had with The Meg was that it wasn’t silly enough, and it should have been. With a premise dealing with a megalodon, it really should have been more like Anaconda. Like, I would have loved if Statham’s character exclaimed something like, “Is sharks out there dis big?” like Ice Cube proclaimed about a giant serpent in Anaconda, which embraced its cheesiness.
Well, the Crank series doesn’t have that problem, as it fully embraces its lunacy, and it’s not ashamed to be outlandish or silly, which again, makes it really stand out in Statham’s filmography. This is the series where he hooks a car battery to his nipple! What other Statham movie can make that claim?
Lastly, the Crank movies, which came out in 2006, and 2009, respectively, represent 2000s movies, and a lot of action flicks from that era just don’t seem to hold up for me. Really, I think a lot of people tend to actually forget the glut of action movies we got in that period, and for many, action movies really started up again with 2014’s John Wick, which ushered in a new era of badass action movies, with some even declaring it the greatest action movie franchise of all time.
I’ll get on the John Wick train, too, but I also don’t want to discount the Crank franchise, since I actually think they hold up quite well. I believe this is because they're so stylized and have such a great premise. Sure, Wick needs to stay alive, but it’s not the same as his heart literally needing a constant jolt to just for him to stay upright. The Crank films provide that, though, and I’ll always remember them as the Statham vehicle that really made him a stand-out star in my eyes.
What are your feelings on the Crank franchise? Do you think it’s the star's best? For more news on all things Statham, be sure to swing by here often! CHEV CHELIOS!
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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