Rated: R for strong violence and language.
Release Date: 2008-08-22
Starring: Paul W.S. Anderson
Official Website: http://www.deathracemovie.net/index.php
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A remake of Roger Corman’s 1975 cult action film starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, Death Race pumps even more adrenaline and senseless gore into a film that seems more like a video game adaptation than a ‘B’ movie remake.
Set in the not so distant future, Death Race tells the story of Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), a former speedway champion turned blue collar worker who is framed for a gruesome murder. He soon realizes however, it’s all been part of a plot to coerce him into participating in the world’s most popular televised sport: a car race set in a maximum security prison in which the inmates must brutalize and kill one another in order to win. If they are lucky to finish the race alive and in first place, then they’ll also gain their freedom.
Despite all the action, the film attempts to make its subtle satirical jabs at our culture – the one that can’t enough reality television, extreme fighting competition, and violent video game titles. One in particular, ‘Twisted Metal’ certainly comes to mind as a game which essentially shares the same premise as the movie. But like those video games, Death Race’s plot is thin and lacking the emotion necessary to really push a story forward. In this film, its all about outfitting cars with weapons you pick up along the way and blowing up your competitors off the tracks.
For Statham, its a no brainer role, as he slowly turns into the Jean-Claude Van Damme of our era, funny accent and all. For Joan Allen however, this might be her worst mistake as a professional actress. Allen playing the role of the Warden who organizes the race is as believable as the film’s own premise. One pleasant surprise is the addition of Natalie Martinez, the rookie cuban american actress, who teams up with Statham playing ‘Case’, his ‘navigator’. Giving the film its sexiness, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of her in these Angelina Jolie/female action star type roles.
Although a case can be made that these days, video game have evolved with much more complex story-lines, there will always be a great appetite for the ‘shoot em up’ types games where users can’t wait for the next level to keep smashing the buttons on their controllers. For those type of people, Death Race is must.