Freelance hitman Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) wakes up to find that he has been poisoned with a concoction that is attacking his adrenal system. If he stops moving, he dies. Chelios has two goals: survive long enough to kill his tormentor Verona (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and maybe get an antidote from his dead body. Failing that he wants to come clean to new girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart). Helping him along the way are his doctor Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam) and his out-there best friend Kaylo (Efren Ramirez). Like the human equivalent of the bus from ‘Speed’, Chelios must keep moving forward, consuming caffeine and other drugs to power through his quest, before either his heart gives out or the poison takes over.
The Production: 2.5/5
Crank is a real bummer on a whole variety of fronts. First, as a film shot on HD camcorders it is in no way representative of what UHD can achieve visually and should actually be the poster child for what NOT to make a big deal of ‘upgrading’ from Bluray over. Sure, it now has a mild HDR pass and a new Atmos transfer, both of which we will talk about below, but neither are compelling upgrades.
Add to that the racism and homophobia that Chelios exhibits and it’s a pretty harsh throwback. On one hand Chelios’s best friend is doing his own thing, without having any kind of label attached to it. That was cool and progressive for its day. But the homophobic putdowns that Chelios uses against Verona when talking about members of his family and crew that have been wiped out would never pass today. Nor would the attack on the black biker gang with it’s torrent of N words being used by the gang and Chelios alike. You can’t even pass it off as ‘friendly banter’ like a Tarantino film, it’s clearly neither friendly nor ironically used.
As a film I liked Crank when I first saw it theatrically and well enough when the blu dropped. It was a system seller for sure in 2006. I guess we’ve moved on in a lot of ways since then.
3D Rating: NA
Crank was shot on Canon XL-2 and Sony CineAlta HDC-F950 cameras using Zeiss DigiPrime and DigiZoom Lenses. Top of the line for a first generation 1080p shoot. It was digitally manipulated to add film grain and 24p encoding, and additional filters were used liberally to distort playback and add additional film-like effects. Still, the original content maxed out at 1/4 the resolution that UHD is capable of, and scanning the resulting film as a 4k UHD isn’t going to magically add any details. There’s grain, video noise, blown highlights and other artifacts aplenty here. Some are surely in the capture, some are added via the tweaks the DP chose for the theatrical ‘look’.
I don’t have the original Blu any more so I can’t tell if it ‘feels’ any different, but if it does that’s likely due to the light UHD pass applied on to the scan. A few scenes had bright highlights that are telltales of this effect, including sparks from motorcycle skids. My recommendation is to hold off on upgrading if you were hoping on a big resolution bump, you canna break the rules of physics, Captain!
Crank had a very favorably reviewed Bluray Lossless LPCM 7.1 audio track that was state of the art for 2006. This UHD’s Atmos track sounds like it used that recording as a base and moved very little to the ceiling height speakers. It’s very active with non stop use of the entire room as shots, crashes, explosions, punches, and other environmental cues come from a full circle around the listener. It’s fun and engaging, but it’s nowhere near a compelling adaptation of Atmos technology. Once again a strike if you were hoping the new encode would be a favorable reason to upgrade.
Special Features: 2/5
All of the extras are identical to the 2006 Bluray. Boooo.
· “Shooting Crank” Featurette
· “The Stunts of Crank” Featurette
· “Pushing Crank” Featurette
· NEW “Crank @ Comic-Con” Featurette
· NEW “More Stories from Crank” Featurette
The ‘More stories” is an exhaustive behind the scenes Q&A with cast and crew. I didn’t time it but it’s gotta be at least 45 minutes. If you are a Crank fan you’ll enjoy it and wonder why more did not get added to this UHD.
Ultimately Crank starts off as a very poor choice for a UHD re-release and get’s hobbled by a mediocre ‘upgrade’ to Atmos sound (tho the original soundtrack is still great!) and zero new special features.
I can’t remember Lionsgate having put out similar disappointing releases on UHD, and I hope this is not what we will see on their future re-releases!
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