Monday, November 24, 2008
Cast: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Runtime: 101 min.
Sometimes you don’t want to negotiate traffic, but just hit the gas and drive. So fast and so straight even bothering about turning the wheel as much as a fraction of a degree feels like real labor. Death Race is that kind of a film, hitting just the right buttons on your way to instant satisfaction. Kinda like Maggi noodles. Doesn’t exactly taste like your mom’s finest, but what the heck, you would enjoy it just as much as long as it lasts. And at the same time, you wouldn’t want to have any more of it. This isn’t the next great artistic achievement in motion pictures, and neither is it promising thus. What it promises though it delivers in real knockout style. As in, not meandering into unnecessary territory and delivering all out on both death and race. What’s not to like here? Cars? Good. Monster trucks? Good. Revved up engines? Roaring good. Chases? Yeah, good. Explosions? Good. Obligatory deaths? Lots of them, and good. Curves? Flashes only, but sexy and good. Blood? Oh yeah, economically spilt and good. Stunts? Nice, good. Dumbness? Bucketsful, and good. Statham? Good. Joan Allen? What the hell is she doing here?
I mean, you really can’t go much wrong with cars and trucks and chases and races and Jason Statham. That guy lends any preposterous stupidity more than an air of credibility. He is Jensen Ames, who in turn plays 4-time death race champion Frankenstein in this remake of the 1975 Roger Corman produced cult classic Death Race 2000 (not to confuse cult with being good). See, what happens is extremely simple, and there’re practically no spoilers to be had. The plot might as well be laid out in the placard upfront and it wouldn’t have made one iota of difference. I can layout the entire picture right in front of you, verbatim, and I wouldn’t dent as much as a scar in your viewing experience. I mean, how do I describe car chases and dumb rhetoric dialog. Flipping cars got to be seen. And when the superbitch of the house says, I always win, you got to hear it to snicker.
The superbitch I’m talking about is Hennessey (Joan Allen), who runs what’s allegedly the most badass penitentiary in the whole of civilized world. The world of 2012, after the world economy has crumbled. There’s a new concept of making gladiators out of prisoners much like they used to do with slaves during the Roman Empire. Yeah, I know you realize these are attempts at satire and all, and I hope they don’t put you off. They’re minor jabs really, and amidst all the noise and explosions they’re as lost as Rob Schneider at Oscars. So, never mind. People seem to have grown bored out of all the WWE style fights and herein comes death race. A real all-out showdown deal. Ben-hur style. Only that in place of chariots, we have Mustangs with V-8 supercharged engines, self-defense plates called Tombstones (don’t ask me why), and machine guns and eject seats and napalm and smoke. Power add-ons to be had. And one superhot babe per vehicle as your navigator, but only if you are straight. See, you do have rights and your right to choose extends there as well. There’s more but I hope you get the picture. And yeah, there’s the small matter of Jensen’s wife being murdered and him being implicated. Why? So that he could be arrested and brought to her fortress where she could replace the original Frankenstein who was killed in a race. Just in case you’re wondering, Frankenstein always wore an iron mask and no one ever knew who he was. The Man in the Iron Mask meets Ben-hur meets a badass Jason Statham B-flick? Count me in, big time.
See, the entire roadmap is crystal clear, much like those roads in your computer race games, and all you need is to drive along. I recently heard the word Carmageddon, and Carpocalypse. This is it. This is the one designed to deliver concentrated payloads of The Road Warrior. Flipping cars being hit my rockets so that they flip over the track. Real smash-em-up. Pour in the most credible action star of today, and real lightning pace from Paul W.S. Anderson, and you have a mighty deal on your hands. Statham is like those tough guys we all miss now, I mean the real tough nuts (Lee Marvin, Stallone, Schwarzenegger), and he is one of those guys who is keeping the old-school action flick alive. With gratuitous violence. With big bad monster cars. With super dumb villains. With loud noise. And with style.
Posted by Satish Naidu at 6:15 AM