Popcorn Love: The Last Scene in Crank (2006)
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 8, 2008
Yeah whatever, psycho
Though I still have to budget some quality time to see Transporter 3 in theaters, it’s hard to keep my eyes on the prize when Crank: High Voltage looms around the corner. Yes, that’s right, the most improbable action sequel of recent years is indeed looming, with a reported release date of April 17 of next year. That’s a ways away, certainly, but look at what has been promised us: a score from Mike Patton (he of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle fame), cameos from Corey Haim and Geri Halliwell (yes, Ginger Spice herself), returning cast members including Dwight Yoakam, Amy Smart and Efrim Ramirez (despite the fact that he died two-thirds of the way through the first one), and another Adams-Statham public sex scene, this time supposedly at a horse track (the innuendos write themselves!). More sex, more violence, and a thankfully unembellished budget mean that the charms of the first shoudl more than carry over to a second. Sounds perfect, no? Well, not quite–because Ramirez’s character wasn’t the only one that died in the original Crank…
When Chev Chelios goes up to meet Ricky Verona at the top of that hotel at the end of 1, no one–with the possible exception of Amy Smart, who has been too busy getting bent over and shot at to notice–thinks that Chev is walking away from it alive. Dwight Yoakam’s corrupt doctor character has already told him there’s no cure, and the “jerk off” motion made by Verona’s driver when Chev demands the antidote in exchange for Verona’s family heirloom makes it pretty clear that he doesn’t know of one either. He’s just going up there to take as many bad dudes down with him as possible in his last moments on earth. Still, at home you might still be thinking “oh yeah, he’ll discover some last-second antidote, or maybe he’ll just out-diesel the poison” or something along those lines. After all, when did John McClane ever die at the end of his movies? Rambo? Lt. Frank Drevin? It’s just not something you’d think the powers that be would possibly allow.
Anyway, after the climactic shoot-out on the rooftop, Verona speeds off in his helicopter, and Chev hangs on the bottom to try to finish what he started. A fistfight at 10,000 feet ensues, and it ends with Chev pulling Verona out of the helicopter and free-falling with him to the earth. At this point, you’re probably wondering “uh, don’t think I see a parachute, how exactly is he going to get out of this one?” But first things first–Chev, apparently not content with merely letting his adversary fall a couple miles to his death, breaks his neck first to be on the safe side. To be fair, getting this out of the way early allows him a moment for contemplation, after which he decides to pull out his cell and give Ms. Smart a call to let her know that he won’t be making it home for supper. He apologizes for lying to her about coming back alive, mentions how he wishes he could’ve taken the time to enjoy life a little more (the closest thing the movie has to a moral, which luckily isn’t very close), bids her his farewell and hangs up. Then he prepares for his imminent fall to earth, even doing the classic eyes-closed, arms-out pose, before he decides that nah, he can handle it, and opens his eyes once more before he takes a fifty-foot bounce off of a car and falls flat on the pavement. You hear his heart beat to a standstill, and the answer for how he’s going to survive this one becomes obvious–he isn’t.
Except, well, maybe he does. The last shot of the movie is of Chev’s bloody face, the life draining out of it. Except that right before the film cuts to credits, he blinks. I thought nothing of this the first time (or indeed, the first three or four times) I saw this movie, but someone–my brother, one of my friends, I don’t remember–suggested that this was meant to imply that somehow, against all odds, Chev had survived his thousand-story fall, and that seconds later he might have picked himself up off the concrete and gone on some new mission to get vengeance on his enemies and fuck his girlfriend in front of an appreciative crowd. I didn’t believe it–I wouldn’t believe it. But now here we are, with a sequel on the way, and it looks like my friend/brother/stranger was right after all–Chev has indeed come back to life, albeit now with some sort of battery-powered heart that needs constant charging (that’s right, Chev Chelios IS IRON MAN) after his real one has been stolen by Chinese mobsters.
Sounds gloriously implausible. But as good as the new movie will undoubtedly be, I still can’t help but be a little disappointed that the glory of the original movie’s ending (or, at least, what I thought the ending was) has been so cheapened by the fact that Chev apparently survives its fall. One of the reasons Crank blew my mind so handily upon first viewing was how the movie, while packing no shortage of classic action thrills, still more or less played by its own roles–visually, structurally, even musically, the movie was like no other shoot ’em up I’d ever watched, and so while I was still surprised to see that Chev didn’t make it out OK, it still kind of made sense–it’s a better movie, a more properly anarchic one, if he simply falls to his death at the end, without any sort of fanfare or deus ex machina-type intervention to make it more properly conform to genre standard. Plus, the scene is just so perfect–where the hell else have you ever seen anything like a guy making a self-eulogizing phone call to his girlfriend, while plummeting to his death, while Jefferson Starship’s gorgeous “Miracles” plays in the background? If the Crank franchise had begun and ended with that movie, and that was the last scene…well, who could possibly complain about that?
Still, battery-powered heart. Ginger Spice. Horse track sex. I think I’ll live.