You want to hear something cool? Well bad luck, because you’re reading about ‘Death Race’. Death Race is a remake of ‘Death Race 2000’, a 1975 cult classic. In this version Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is wrongfully convicted of a crime and asked to replace a legend in the prison based Death Races, which are car races with guns.
Clearly Paul W.S. Anderson (the director, writer and producer) sought to cash in on the wave of seventies B-movie popularity that was sure to follow Tarantino and Rodriguez’s B-movie double bill ‘Grindhouse’. Faded colours and boxy vehicles are meant to trade off a perhaps misplaced sense of nostalgia for a forgotten kind of dross.
But Grindhouse under performed at the box office and Death Race sits in monument to a phenomenon that never happened.
But this is an action movie, and it is by the action that it will be judged. So if you’re thinking of heading to the cinema for some sweet racing and big explosions then tough biscuits. While the film has both in spades, choppy race editing seems hell bent on focusing on Statham’s mug and obscures any potentially good action, such as a dreadnaught taking on rally cars. How any film with so much bang could feel so wimpy is impressive.
No actor is good in this film, but then again none of them have any space to be good. Ian McShane and Joan Allen try their best but to no avail. Meanwhile, Statham proves that he’s the ‘Asda Smart Price’ Bruce Willis.
His attempts to look deep and troubled come across as distracted and uninterested, a reaction to the script which audiences will relate to.
I have no problem with dumb action movies in general. I like Hard Target. Dumb action movies are great. But this film has no style, let alone substance. By any standards, such a misguided attempt to cash in is a failure audiences will soon forget.