Friday, August 15, 2008


Men being men; driving fast cars. Gorgeous women riding in fast cars. Weapons being used on fast cars. Oh, and did I mention fast cars?

DEATH RACE is the remake of the cult film, DEATH RACE 2000. And much like its original, DEATH RACE takes a lot of liberties when it comes to cheesy dialogue, excessive gore, and a winking eye at the state of our world. You wouldn’t think a movie starring Jason Statham driving hard and fast would do that, but hey, it was a slow day at the Multiplex for me.

Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, the movie revolves around an ex-con, Jensen Ames, played by an incredibly rock-hard and ripped Statham (even my ego got a pounding after seeing him do the iron cross in the film), who is forced by the warden of an infamous prison, played by Joan Allen, to compete in a race where the driver can win his freedom, or meet his death. *ooooohhhhhh* Sounds so serious.

Anderson, who some of my friends in the ‘industry’ like to call ‘Milla baby daddy’ goes all out when it comes to directing this crazy post-industrial view of our world. Allow me to be frank; Anderson directs some of the bloodiest, most violent stuff I’ve recently seen, like half-dead people getting up just to have their heads whacked off by another weapon. Is this necessary? When you’re dealing with a bleak world where unemployment has reached an all time high, economy sucks and these men are just ‘being men in prison,’ I don’t really expect them to be weaving baskets and growing flowers on a mountainside. But wow, the amount of violence seemed like overkill, and honestly the direction was heavy-handed. Just to be fair, I have to admit I don’t play ‘Grand Theft Auto’ on a daily basis, I don’t own THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS DVDs, and I don’t race cars on the streets of LA. Although I did have an incident where I did rev up to a Mini-van. All’s I’m gonna say is I smoked that b*tch!

Now let’s talk about casting. This is one motley crew of actors! Sure, I can understand Statham in the lead, but how did they convince Joan Allen to play the warden?! I can understand wanting to play against type and all, but this just seemed like an odd choice. She plays this manipulative, powerful, money hungry warden with as much skill as she can, but considering some of the fromage-heavy lines she had to deliver, I am not sure how she said, ‘yes! I’ve got to do this film!’. So I stepped up and asked her point blank at the press junket of DEATH RACE. I sat with Allen and asked, ‘what drew you to a movie like this? You’re usually the moral pillar in a film.’ Her answer? She really wanted to play a villain. Too bad she chose this movie to exercise that wish.

Tyrese Gibson adds an air of hardness as ‘Machine Gun Joe,’ however with few lines, and many hardcore fistfights, you don’t really get to know Joe, or care about his and Statham’s character’s rivalry.

Ian McShane plays Coach, but lacks a mean edge that would send a man away to the worst jail in America. Oh and then there’s the oddest member of the crew, Ulrich, a corpulent, nerdy, glasses wearing number cruncher with a stutter played by Jason Clarke. Now if I’m complaining about how Coach got sent to this jail, I have no words to describe why Bill Gates Jr. would end up here as well, unless he channeled Lizzy Borden, then kicked a litter of kittens in the face, the judge’s kittens, while she was nursing them herself, from milk she collected from their ailing cat mom.

To sum it up, I found the movie loud, gory, violent for the sake of violence, and the dialogue laughable. But honestly I went to this movie with my sister, the loveliest and smartest human being I know, and she thought this movie was a really fun ride. And yes, she used those exact words. Ok, maybe she didn’t but the gist was clearly there. There you have it - An audacious race car movie where lives are as important as toe nail clippings finds a home on the silver screen. Silver’s gonna cry tonight. Unless you play lots of FPS or GTA, you can probably skip this one.

And notice, not one car pun...I'm a classy lady.