Death Race

Death Race

In Theatres: 
Aug 22, 2008
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 29 Minutes

When Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), former race car driver, now struggling construction worker, Father, and Husband, is set up for killing his wife he finds himself on a penal island where the inmates race for their freedom. The warden (Joan Allen) uses these races for profit by televising them via internet to millions of fans. With the help of Jensen’s inherited crew he must win one last race to win his freedom and reunite with his child or die trying.  “The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it's the sand of the Colosseum. He'll bring them death and they will love him for it” (excerpt from the film Gladiator).

Paul W.S. Anderson’s Death Race is an ultra violent film in which most of the story is consumed by violence and there isn’t much meat in the plot. The races are more video game like and the film even incorporates commercials much like they have in the film Starship Troopers. As I sat in the theater and took the film in I watched the people around me who clapped and cheered and whispered threats and congratulations for one character offing another and I was reminded of the above quote. Death Race is an appeasing film that plays on humanities love for violence and it does not pretend to be anything other then that. In fact one could look at it as a satire on our love for violence and by simply watching the film it will have proved its point. Even though I attempt to separate myself from those aspects of films to get a better look at the substance and detail of a film I was just as caught up in the bloodlust. Playing on our human vice for violence is a smart and easy move that will have people flocking to see this film and will probably garner a pretty penny from DVD sales.

The film was directed well. Unlike some action films that insist on using sporadic and lightening fast camera angle switch up’s Death Race stays pretty fluid so that you see pretty much all that’s going on. There were a few scenes in the film where the camera bounced around intolerably and was becoming somewhat of a distraction though. Statham does his usual part in driving cars and killing people while, my personal favorite, Ian McShane is highly underused and whose dialogue isn’t exactly caliber for this actor. Tyrese Gibson isn’t as god awful as he usually is and is finally able to portray somewhat of a badass. The real runaway character in the film is surprisingly Frederick Koehler who most will only remember as that guy from the Fiber Cereal commercials but who really made his debut in the 1983 film Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. His character had some actual depth when considering the rest of the cast and his comic relief was classic.

Is this film enjoyable? Yes. Is it an intellectual vehicle? A resounding no. But your going to enjoy the film if you can tolerate loads of violence. Most people can and will even if they don’t like to admit it.

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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