Sunday, October 25, 2009

Death Race

Released: 2008
Reviewed: 10.22.09
Star rating: 5 out of 5

Jason Statham (Jensen), Joan Allen (Warden Hennessey), Ian McShane (Coach), Tyrese Gibson (Joe), Natalie Martinez (Case), Max Ryan (Pachenko), Robert LaSardo (Grimm), Jacob Vargas (Gunner), Jason Clarke (Ulrich).

In this futuristic mix of thriller, action, and horror Jensen is an ex-racer who finds himself back in prison and forced to compete in an insane 3-day race for world enjoyment. Driving an armored car fitted with machine guns, bombs, and other nasty devices against several other drivers he will gain his freedom if he wins.

If you are looking for mental stimulation, forget it. You won't find it here. There is much more to the plot than mentioned in the summary and though it is solid, it is only part of the story. The deal here is action, violence, car crashes, and explosions. The futuristic slant to the film and the way the races are shown makes for a very interesting film and lets the viewer be both detached and involved at the same time. I was a little disappointed at the Disney ending but it nicely brought the film back to reality at the same time.

Acting was decent enough with Statham delivering in his usual manner. Allen rocked as the evil Warden while McShane reminded me of Pacino in a few scenes. Gibson was very good playing a scumball while Martinez, Ryan, LaSardo and the rest did a great job supporting. There was a good balance between character development and plot movement that kept the film flowing well.

Camera work was good though scenes often switched frequently during action sequences making it challenging to watch. I was impressed with action scenes as there seemed to be very little CGI. Either it was done exceptionally well or there just wasn't much CGI used. Sets and background were awesome as were the vehicles. Sound and dialogue were also well done and lent to the feel of a quality film with a good budget.

Overall I enjoyed this one a lot. Granted the film will appeal to a specific type of viewer who enjoys car racing, futuristic themes, and testosterone fueled action without being mired in mental stimulation. This is total boy eye-candy from start to finish. If that's what you like plant this one firmly at the top of your Must See list. With plenty of foul language, violence, and gore save this one for teens and above.

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