Ex-speedway champion Jensen Ames (Statham) is a master of survival in a futuristic post-industrila wasteland. Framed and imprisoned for the gruesome murder of his family, Ames is forced to face the country’s most violent criminals in a brutal televised car race run by the prison warden.
With monster cars, machine guns, and bone crunching crashes, Ames will destroy anything in his path to claim his prize of freedom. This action packed explosive movie will have you gripping you seat at every twist and turn. Welcome to the most evil spectator sport on Earth…
After Uwe Boll, Paul W.S. Anderson might be the second most hated director in the whole planet. The man who is credited for initiating the whole Resident Evil mayhem, bedded his onscreen leading lady and single handedly destroyed a potentially huge franchise called Alien Vs Predator.
Despite his so-called unpopularity, Paul W.S. Anderson still manages to find funding for his movies, latest being Death Race (led by Tom Cruise’s production company), a remake of the 1975 Roger Corman’s cult film. Anderson who wrote most of his own directorial projects is far more at ease here coordinating the mindless chaos.
Inspired by the current trend of reality TV programs, Jason Statham plays Frankenstein, a loving doting husband who is being wrongly accused of killing his wife. In order to be reunited with his baby daughter, he is forced to compete in deadly car races in the prison in which he is held. Never mind the nonsensical plotting of prisons being run by corporations due to the collapsed of the American economy, Frankenstein must deal with a scheming warden (Joan Allen) and a homosexual competing inmate nicknamed Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson).
If it sounds ludicrous to you, then stay away from Death Race. If not, just sit back and immerse yourself in those crazy car stunts and pyrotechnics. In a world created by Anderson, the characters are one-dimensional hardly deal with logic, mouths laughable dialogues and sarcasm and engages in brutal fights.
Jason Statham, the only actor currently working in Hollywood who can transcend from one set to another without batting an eyelid or a hair stylist in tow fits perfectly into the world of Death Race. He is tough with zero percent fats and gets to romance a beautiful co-star. Joan Allen (3 times Academy Award nominee) on the other hand looks out-of-place here with that leftover sort of cool charisma from Bourne Ultimatum.
Death Race is the perfect example of a B-movie given the A treatment. Presumably, most of the budget goes to all the out-of-this-world vehicles retrofitted with heavy weaponry. Hop on this ride expecting adrenalin-rushed car chases and you won’t be disappointed by Anderson’s treatment of the material. It’s the perfect fit for him and corny cheesy entertainment for the rest of us.
As compared to the theatrical version, this extended version features additional bits of character development and violence. But with our protective censors labeling it as NC-16, how gross can it be?
Feature-length audio commentary with director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt – An informative track which details the journey of reimagining the cult classic and bringing it to the screen. Both being pretty chatty and dispense lots of production nuggets if you are keen on the details.
Start Your Engines: Making a 'Death Race' – This 19 minutes long featurette covers interviews with the cast and crew including a very interesting one with Jason Statham. Now you know the secret behind his so lean body.
Behind the Wheel: Dissecting the Stunts - Running at 7 minutes, this feature touches on how the car stunts in the movie were staged by the crew and how the various vehicles were modified.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the colours here are bare and bleak to fit in an industrial look no doubt enhanced digitally. If loud rocking music is your preferred genre then the soundtrack of Death Race might be just the thing for you. Accompanied by a strong Dolby Digital 5.1, the audio won’t be a disappointment when the cars came crashing.
Review by Linus Tee