- Director:Paul W.S. Anderson
- Cast:Joan Allen, Natalie Martinez, Ian McShane, Jason Statham
- Release Date:October 30, 2008
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$9.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
“…moronic, loud, violent…”
Paul W.S Anderson kicked his career off with the Brit ram-raid drama, Shopping; then flaunted his big budget potential with gaming adaptation Mortal Kombat and the derivative Event Horizon. Since then his career has been a one-way express to the ubiquitously banal, churning out the Resident Evil films, Aliens Vs. Predator and now Death Race.
The story opens with Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), an out-of-work steel worker, being mysteriously framed for murder and incarcerated on Terminal Island, presided over by the puritanical warden Hennessey (Joan Allen). The privatised prison regularly holds the gladiatorial Death Race, watched on pay-per-view by a rabid public. Ames is recruited as a driver and paired up with race team manager Coach (Deadwood's Ian McShane) and co-driver Case (Natalie Martinez). Ames proceeds to violently dispatch an array of psychopathic drivers and their weaponised mean machines as they race each other to win their freedom.
While not being the most awful filmic experience available, it's certainly one of the dumbest. Every story point and character arc is a tick on the screenwriting "how-to" checklist. McShane amounts to what is essentially a gravely voiced white version of Morgan Freeman from Shawshank, Joan Allen devours the scenery, and Statham holds fast as a reliably solid lead.
Aimed solely at the gaming male, Death Race's action sequences are punctuated with generic metal music; dynamically bloody but hardly explicit violence, and the car race itself features checkpoints in the road's surface that must be driven over in order to gain control over weapons and car upgrades. Essentially Death Race is a 100-minute advertisement for its video game tie-in. It's moronic, loud, violent - and somehow, a lot of fun.