Genres: Action, Thriller,
Runtime: 89 minutes
Review done by: Serial McKiller
Starring: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie
Martinez, Max Ryan
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Synopsis: Ex-con Jensen Amesis forced by the warden of a notorious prison
to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in
which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
While screening "Death Race" (last Wednesday, but I'm just getting around
to writing about it) my girlfriend described it fairly well. She said that the film
was like getting a whole bunch of candy you wanna eat. So you eat it and like
it a lot, but then you've still got so much and you lose your taste for it. I
don't 100% agree with that as opposed to the film, but she's not wrong.
Paul W.S. Anderson ('Resident Evil', 'AVP: Alien versus Predator', 'Soilder',
'Event Horizon' and 'Mortal Kombat') is known for something very
interesting. He can begin a film as great or better than most filmmakers. The
opening to 'Resident Evil' was terrific, however the rest of the film sucked.
"Death Race" kind of has that where the opening with a special guest voicing
by David Carradine (the original lead character of 'Death Race 2000') is really
impressive, but the rest of the film tends to fluctuate.
The set up is presented very well on the ads. Jason Statham's character gets
sent to prison for the murder of his wife whom he didn't kill. Six months
down the road he ends on Terminal Island, a prison isle run by Joan Allen's
warden character. A few years before she started the gladiator-esq Death
Race program which is shown over the internet to millions. The favorite being
the racer Frankenstein (Carradine's part in the original) however he is now
dead and she wants Statham to take up where the real Frankenstein left off.
Against him is a series of other fairly unimportant prisoners, sans for Tyrese
Gibson's character Machine Gun Joe (originally played by Sylvester Stallone).
What ever racer wins five races, gets their freedom. Retarded to the utmost,
slightly less retarded than "The Condemned" though and without the pisser
of a third act created to make you feel horrible for enjoying violence.
In truth, "Death Race" tries extremely hard to be a bad ass film. I mean it
goes through the ringer trying every trick possible. Sometimes it does work,
for example a sequence in which Allen unleashes her secret ratings weapon, a
semi truck with spikes, drills, machine guns and cannons attachments. The
whole thing is topped off with probably one of the most creative crashes I've
seen in a long time and I have to applaud Anderson for that. However there's
pieces where the film blares weak rap music and shows beautiful women (who
are from the women's prison...and apparently female prisoners are hot...who
knew) walking in slow motion. Also there was a slightly lack of real hardcore,
grind house violence which the original had. There's a few pieces, one damn
good smash and one really nice and brutal beat down, but still it wasn't
enough. There's a lot of racing and shooting and video game like sequences.
It's all very half and half. However with all that said I'm recommending it just
"Death Race" isn't great and in a ton of ways it's not particularly good, but
within the crap that's here from Paul W.S. Anderson, there's also a difference
in tone and look and feel. Anderson has made some crap, but always
screams potential in some way or another to me. Here he somewhat shows
that he can do things, but needs to stop thinking as much...which is ironic
considering how damn retarded a film this is overall. But a lot of it seemed
like he was thinking 'what do people who like bad ass things like?'. Look at
'Grindhouse', 'Death Sentence', 'Death Wish' or really any of the 70's crime
or action films because it was all rather effortlessly done. Hot chicks, fast
cars, brooding, square jawed heros...it's all awesome. Bloody, smash-bang
crashes are great too, but if you don't know how to make it bad ass, don't
ever try. Because trying is the least bad ass thing of all. But I digress and
say that this round goes to Anderson and that I still hope that he can make
an honestly good modern film with as little flaws as possible. I think he
can...but it just hasn't happened yet.
Online since: February 20th, 2006