Death Race (5/10)
by Tony Medley
Run Time 89 minutes.
One thing you donít have to
worry about with Jason Statham, and thatís that he might show emotion.
The fact that one of the prime requisites for being an actor is the
ability to show differing emotions is of no consequence to Jason. Thatís
why he generally limits himself to action movies where he beats the cóp
out of people.
In this one, Jensen Ames (Stathan)
is framed for murder and sent to a corrupt jail in the future. The plot
is that by 2012 prisons are run by corporations for profit, so it has
devised a car race where people race to their deaths. Naturally, Jensen
eventually finds the people who framed him and the reason they framed
him. So all the movie is about is Jensen racing and getting his revenge.
Frankly, movies set in the
future generally leave me cold. Oh, I liked 2001 OK, but most movies set
in the future bore me silly. In this one, Jensen is sent to the prison
where Hennessey (Joan Allen) is warden. Hennessey is described by one of
the inmates as the meanest person there. And this prison is for the
worst, most violent offenders.
While this is yet another
excuse for video game-like special effects, it is not unenjoyable. As in
most films like this, the races are virtually incomprehensible. You
canít tell who is ahead and who is behind or the way the game is played.
The stunts are impossible. There is an overwhelming abundance of noise.
But the film is somehow
rewarding because the bad guys are really bad and you are rooting for
Jensen to give them the justice they deserve. They each get their just
rewards, graphically. Brit writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson obviously
realizes that he isnít there to make Hamlet. Heís got a job to do and he
does it effectively and competently. There is no memorable dialogue, no
scenes that will go down in history, no extraordinary characters. What
it does have is conflict and conflict resolution with just enough
tension to keep the thing moving. I never felt like I was going to go to
sleep, although I did cringe a couple of times at some of the graphic
violence, but my watch sure got a workout.
. But if video
game-like special effects and intellect is your cup of tea, you
shouldn't be disappointed.
August 21, 2008