Ok, I waited a long time for Death Race, the remake based on Death Race 2000 the 1975 cult favorite produced by and in association with Roger Corman, king of the B Movies.
Here is the plot, such as it is; in 2012, the United States economy collapses and life for everyone pretty much sucks. Once a NASCAR champion, Jensen Ames, (Jason Statham), hits rock bottom and spent several years in prison. His life was improving and changing for the better after meeting and marrying Suzy (Janaya Stephens) and having a baby girl. (This entire back story, aside from some text at the beginning of the film is barely alluded to; you are left to fill in the details). The steel mill where Jensen works closes and he loses his job. But that was not the worst thing to happen to Jenson that day. Jensen’s wife is brutally murdered, and he is framed for her murder. Jenson is sent to Terminal Island, the worst and toughest for-profit prison in the country run by Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen). She has created the country's most popular pay-per-view sport, a kill-or-be-killed car race where the inmates race to win their freedom from prison after 5 wins. Every inmate driver is driving a monster car that they built which is loaded with machine guns, missiles, flamethrowers, napalm, and no rules. Warden Hennessey convinces Jensen to secretly take the place of the late 4-time superstar winner, Frankenstein, originally played by David Carradine, and wear his metallic mask in the race. If Jensen wins just one race, he can go home to his baby daughter. To get to the finish line, Jensen must kill his competition before they kill him. Thank You to Douglas Young, “The Movie Guy”.
Here is where the differences lie. There is no moral message here based on the idea that we as a nation have gone to far with the whole reality TV genre. In the movie it is like duuuude, who cares!? The plot is held together by loose strings of action and the promise that Jensen can get out by winning the fifth race. We all know going in that this is not the case and he will have to defeat the evil Warden Hennessey before he can get out.
Even Ian McShane’s excellent acting, Jason Stathom’s usual appeal, and the strength of Joan Allen cannot make this a movie to be taken seriously. Oh yeh, Tyrese Gibson is very unbelievable as a gay Machine Gun Joe, but he is kind of entertaining. Natalie Martinez looks hot as Frankenstein’s navigator but ruins it every time she opens her mouth.
What we have is Paul W.S. Anderson’s usual attempt at taking something very cool, and trashing it with rap music, hoochie mamas doing the Miami CSI slow mo walk with plenty of booby action and very little real writing. Quit trying to appeal to the younger generation as though they are idiots. Most are, but they do have the brains to sit through intelligent dialog.
Sorry Mr. Anderson but I am still smarting from the steaming heap and loss of 83 minutes with Alien Versus Predator. But if it makes you feel better, I did like all of the Resident Evil Flicks. See Zombienights.com for those updates.
OK Complaints aside we do have an action packed, spectacularly choreographed super race, chase flick with lots of high speed racing, gore, explosions, gunfire, gore, fighting, gore, gunfire, high speed racing, more explosions and gore, and to top it off, we get to see and hear the formidable Joan Allen say words like C*** Sucker, and say things like "F*** With Me and we'll see who S**ts on the sidewalk". What does that even mean? WOW!!
Lets not forget all the really cool explosions and gore!!
This is definitely a matinee type of show. I can't wait for the video game. Plese someone tell me there will be a video game! This si a check your brain at the door, have some popcorn for nervous munching kind of flick. If you expect anything more from a movie entitled "Death Race", you haven't been paying attention. I give it 2 and a 1/2 out of 5 skulls for the pure fun of the action sequences.