The joy of 2006’s Crank, starring Jason Statham as poisoned hitman Chev Chelios, came from its cheerful contempt for reality: Statham was completely impervious to harm, which left the movie free to go crazy with style, plot, and most importantly, a sense of humor. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, and plausibility feels like deadweight.
So there’s no sense batting an eyelash at the fact that Statham died—dropped thousands of feet to the concrete—at the end of the first Crank. High Voltage just scrapes him off the ground, literally: Asian gangsters simply scoop him up with a snow shovel and take him to a black-market operating room, where he learns his new fate. In the first Crank, Statham needed to keep his adrenaline pumping in order to slow the poison coursing through his veins. In this one, he’s fitted with an artificial heart that needs constant charging—via jumper cables, a stun gun, a dog collar, and the friction generated by human skin—to maintain its battery. And according to Statham’s underground doctor, played expertly by Dwight Yoakam, Statham has an hour to find his actual heart and bring it in for a quick transplant.
From there, it’s go-go-go: Statham chases the gangster who’s carrying his heart in a six-pack cooler around the city, stopping only to provide comic relief via heart jumpstarts. In the most memorable scene, Statham and girlfriend Amy Smart end up having sex in every imaginable position (and then some) in front of thousands of cheering fans on a racetrack, with horses zipping by. Then it’s off to slaughtering dozens of baddies, occasionally with the help of Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite’s Pedro), a gang of gay black bikers, and Bai Ling, a crack whore whose broken English would probably be offensive in any movie but this one. (This one has anal rape with a lubricated shotgun, played for laughs.) And there’s still room for a hilarious flashback to a Jerry Springer-esque show about Statham’s youth, a brilliantly addled Godzilla homage (complete with giant rubber masks), and hundreds of naked boobs. It’d be silly to call Crank: High Voltage over the top: The top is so far below that it isn’t even visible. But at this mostly unexplored altitude—only 2007’s inferior Shoot ’Em Up comes close—writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have written their own set of action-comedy challenges, and they slam-dunk pretty much every one.