In Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s sequel to their 2006 action movie Crank, Jason Statham returns as Chet Chelios, the unbeatable thug who once again finds himself battling for survival in a race against time imposed by his enemies. While Jon Favreau’s Iron Man may at first seem like a totally different breed of movie, there are notable similarities between the two: Like Robert Downey Jr.’s Stark, Statham’s Chelios is a sarcastic, unabashed hellraiser dealing with pesky heart problems that propel the plot forward. Both movies also mine adolescent fantasies in their own idiosyncratic ways. Which movie does a better job of keeping your pulse in the stratosphere?
The Heart of the Movie
Crank: High Voltage: A gang of nefarious Asian organ-harvesters abduct Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) and replace his ticker with a cheapo battery-powered replica after he inexplicably falls from the sky and meets cute with a sedan.
Iron Man: After weapons mogul Tony Stark (Downey) is attacked and taken hostage in the Middle Eastern desert, his captors insert a battery-powered magnet in his chest to keep embedded shrapnel from entering his heart. He’s stuck with it for life.
The Winner: Iron Man. Downey actually makes you care whether he gets to keep breathing or not. Plus, Chelios’ endless quest for ever more absurd ways to recharge his heart gets old really, really fast.
The Woman Behind the Man
Crank: High Voltage: Stripper Eve Lydon (Amy Smart), abandons the pole when Chelios arrives on the scene and spends the rest of the movie fleeing, fighting and fornicating at his side. Honorable mention: Bai Ling, who proclaims such ludicrous things as “You’re my shiny lunchbox!” whenever she sees our hero.
Iron Man: As dedicated personal assistant Pepper Potts, Gwyneth Paltrow does everything from calling cars for Stark’s conquests the morning after to replacing the faulty wiring that surrounds his heart.
The Winner: Crank: High Voltage. Just giving credit where credit is due: The women in this movie were definitely put through the ringer in more ways than one.
Crank: High Voltage: Both the good guys and the bad guys spit out such a cavalcade of racial slurs that there’s barely room in the script for anything else. To the writers’ credit, they do seem to be equal-opportunity offenders.
Iron Man: The Afghan bullies that raze villages and murder the inhabitants are abominable, but so are the power-hungry Americans on this side of the pond.
The Winner: Iron Man. It was a risk making a movie that so many might find unpatriotic, one that, luckily, reaps its own rewards.
Weapons of Choice
Crank: High Voltage: Shotguns invade rectums, bullets burst breast implants, men slice off their own nipples — you get the idea. There’s even one inexplicable scene in which Chelios and his foe morph into animatronic giants the size of mountains. Not kidding.
Iron Man: Stark’s suit of destruction boasts a built-in flame-thrower and a forearm missile launcher, in addition to super-sonic flying capabilities that make pursuit futile.
The Winner: Iron Man. High Voltage‘s schlocky blood and guts are fun, but Iron Man‘s fight scenes can’t be beaten for their sheer scale and justice-served undertones.
The Winner: Iron Man. If only the sequel were hitting theaters tonight!