Canadian Reviews

Death Race Review


The year is 2012, the US economy has collapsed, creating a global recession and crime has become rampant. In response, the US prison system has been privatized and is now a money-making business. Corporations, looking for extra revenue streams, begin broadcasting death sports between convicts. The most popular is ‘Death Race’, a NASCAR-like race with armed and armoured cars, where five victories means freedom and losing means death. Reminiscent of the game Car Wars, the combatants fly around a track in souped-up cars fitted with armour, rockets, machine guns, napalm, and a variety of defensive weaponry. To pump up the audience, female inmates from another prison are bussed in to be ‘navigators’ in the Death Race.

Former race car driver and ex-con Jensen Ames (Jason Stratham) is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to Terminal Island. There, the warden (a mean spirited Joan Allen) tells him to race or rot in a cell for the rest of his life. The bonus, he will take the place of the most famous racer ever, Frankenstein. As Frankenstein had already won four races, if he wins this race, he will gain his freedom. He was actually killed in a previous race, but Frankenstein is a crowd favourite, so the warden is desperate to have him back. Since Frankenstein dropped out of the races, viewership has plunged and everyone is eagerly awaiting his return. All Jensen has to do is outlast seven other competitors, including his arch-nemesis Machinegun Joe.

Loosely a remake of Roger Corman’s 70s classic (Death Race 2000), about the only thing that is the same is the title. Gone is the US wide racetrack and the points for running over civilians. This movie is a testosterone fueled rush of cars, explosions and hot women. Joan Allen in particular plays the nasty warden very well. Stratham portrays essentially the same character he has several times (Crank, Transporter, etc), so you know what to expect. Tyrese Gibson doesa good job with the psychotic Machinegun Joe. The plot is limited and the stars, in reality are the cars, guns and explosions. There are occasional plot holes, (the windows are supposed to be mirrored glass, yet the drivers can flip each other the bird) but they don’t really take away from the story.  There are several sub-plots, like the warden’s scheming to keep ‘Frankenstein’ behind bars to keep ratings, the crime that framed Jensen and so on. If you are looking for an action packed film laced with profanity, violence and mayhem, this is your film.

  

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Added: August 22nd 2008
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  1. Posted by
    2008-10-09 18:40:38
    my score:
    Cool. I''ll have to rent it when it comes out.
    10,000 interwebz for the Car Wars reference.
    Steve Jackson Games rock.
     
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