Death Race

2008-12-12 11:20
Death Race
What it’s about:
Jensen Ames (Vin Diesel substitute, Jason Stratham), was a Nascar driver, but ends up working in a steel mill in an economically crippled America. On the same day the mill closes, he is framed for his wife’s murder and forced by evil prison warden Hennessy (Joan Allen) to take part in Death Race - a violent contest featuring convicts racing each other in armed cars, which is broadcast on the internet. Ames is to take the place of recently deceased masked champion Frankenstein, so that his legions of loyal fans keep watching, with the promise of his freedom as his reward. Many explosions and car chases ensue.

What we thought of it:
Director Paul W.S. Anderson seems to be on a one man quest to popularise video game movie conversions, and even though Death Race is really a loose remake of 70s cult B-movie Death Race 2000 (1975), it plays out like a demo video of some post-apocalyptic Xbox racing game. If you think that sounds awesome, you’ll probably get a big kick out of this movie, but if not, don’t even bother drawing the breath to criticise it as brainless, plotless garbage aimed at underachieving kids raised on MTV.

Jason Stratham plays our hero, with an inexplicable English accent (he’s an American ex-Nascar champion, remember?), who ends up framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Minutes later he is taking part in the actual death race, which is introduced through every driver’s statistics and custom car being flashed across the screen, just in case you thought you weren’t watching a film made by a man who was raised by his Playstation. The thing that struck me most about Stratham in this film is that he must work out a lot, but sadly he is not Vin Diesel. His grim scowl and sarcastic grunts are decent enough, but his smart aleck working class English vibe just doesn’t gel that well with such a simple and generic action movie.

The highlights of Death Race are indeed the races, and if you love speed, explosions, and cars being smashed to pieces, then you’ll be laughing all the way to the predictable end. Anderson has gone all out to offer up the best action sequences his budget would allow, and there is no way to fault Death Race in this department. The video game references (with cars running over little pressure pads to activate weapons, turbo boosts, etc) grow a bit tiring, as they are everywhere. It’s not much of an issue though, as the mindless action comes thick and fast, leaving mercifully little time to concentrate on the thin plot and stilted dialogue.

The briefest glance at the trailer or synopsis should help you decide whether you will enjoy Death Race or not. It’s nothing special, even by action movie standards, but it does what it sets out to do in terms of speed and destruction. Personally, I would rather spend my time actually playing a racing game rather than watching one, but it’s a passable car movie fix if you are counting the days until the next Fast and Furious installment is released.

Ivan Sadler

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A man is framed, imprisoned, and forced to take part in a violent stock car race by a corrupt prison warden, who sells the online footage to the bloodthirsty public.

Gatiep 2008/10/31 1:33 PM
Naai man Jy gee dit 2 sterre. Die stuk is soos n game, jy's reg maar dit is befok!
Ten 2008/10/31 1:36 PM
kill me i saw the Death Race trailer which pretty much gave away the whole plot. Jason Statham makes a good enough action hero but I'd watch Fast & the Furious over this crapola any day.
fhe56tu 2008/11/14 12:26 PM
sfsfs Dit is kuck
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