Monday, September 8, 2008

Death Race

I do not remember the original Death Race 2000 which hit the big screen in 1975. In fact, I would have been borderline old enough to see it. I noticed that the original had David Carradine, which means I will likely rent the original in the near future. I also have not read the book The Racer by Ib Melchior upon which the original movie was based. This review is based solely on my weekend screening of the 2008 movie.
Death Race does not deliver much in the way of plot. In typical fashion, it delivers B-Movie Grade violence in abundance, loosely supporting a frivolously thin plot. The concept at work here is rather simple. Inmates in the not-too-distant future are housed by for-profit Corporations. In order to generate income, these Corporations allow inmates the opportunity to earn their freedom. However, earning your freedom entails risking your life for pay-per-view internet ratings. Death Cage matches were the norm until the populace grew tired of them. Instead, winning five races in souped up race cars equipped with heavy weapons and Spy Hunter type gadgetry wins you a ticket home. Our lead character, Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), is a former racer who is framed for murdering his wife. He is given the opportunity to fill the shoes of a dead racer who tremendous popularity with the pay-per-view masses. Win one race and you are a free man. An offer he can’t refuse. Car crashes, violence and coarse language combine in excellent action sequences that lead to an opportunity to turn the tables on the Corporation. All of it is fairly predictable with limited sub-plots that are equally simplistic. The dialogue is fast, coarse and predictable. The characters are weakly developed and expendable...a fate that many of them experience.

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