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  • 2012 the economy has hit bottom, broke through and has kept on descending. Along the way prisons have been handed over to the private sector that have chosen to make a profit by broadcasting gladiatorial style death matches starring the inmates, with the reward to the inmates after 5 victories – FREEDOM Enter Jensen Ames (Jason Stratham) a recently unemployed steel worker and former race car driver who lost his license but no matter how bad things are, he's a happy man as long as he has his family.

    That is, until he's set up for the murder of his wife, imprisoned, and forced to compete in Death Race if he ever hopes to see his daughter again.

    But enough of the plot! A paragraph blurb at the start and 8 minutes of character development is pushing the limits of this flick and that's not why a person would see a W.S. Anderson/Jason Stratham action flick and besides, a plot would allow "plot holes" and who needs to deal with that headache? The rest of the movie takes place in the 3 days of Death Race. The first 2 days are competition/elimination rounds reminiscent of Mario Kart as if it was designed by some rogue member of GTA on a disgruntled day but who loved the hidden short cuts and power-ups.

    Amongst all the adrenaline filled action, Anderson makes sure to toss in the occasional character development or when he's feeling really daring he'll toss in some pseudo-dramatic realization our hero comes across which helps remind the movie-goer that the movie has a plot rather than just a string of explosive action sequence. All of this is done with the utmost use of cliché and designed to inspire the excitable little 12 year old boy in many of us to stay riveted in our seats as we wait for Jensen to strike with angry revenge for all he's been through.

    The movie is everything a modern day movie aficionado should not like. It's brainless, sexist, ridiculously violent, and lacks any redeemable qualities. These are also all the reasons why I had so much fun with the movie. I went seeing what I expected and that's exactly what I wanted to see!
  • Dino14 November 2008
    I always hate it when all those high class critics from the newspapers and journals bash a film for not being what THEY want it to be and not looking at it for what its SUPPOSED to be.

    The title is "Death Race" after all. No-one ever expected it to win any golden trophies in the first place. So what if the acting was a bit bland and the plot was a little weak. That's not was the movie is supposed th be about.

    It's not a Martin Scorsese film where you sit back and think "Oh, that is very thought-provoking and I feel that I've truly learned something inspirational today." No. This is a film where you sit back, look at it, and think "Holy ****!! Did you see that ********** explosion?!"

    This is a film where you have fun in. Don't worry if you walk away with nothing meaningful to talk about at the end. Go ahead and laugh at its stupidity. I guarantee you you'll still have a much better time that watching something like Capote
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I wasn't looking for anything deep, I wasn't looking for anything serious, no Oscar winning actors, no award winning script, I just wanted an action movie, this summer we got Death Race, a movie where the script and characters are just never explored, but the action is non stop and so exciting. I don't know why, but we just need action movies like that and one of the things that I did enjoy about this was that it reminded me of those old grind house films that have quick editing and fast paced stories that are just awesome stories to watch because of the stunts. This is a different form of The Fast and The Furious, only just not with all the fancy gadgets which I like. Also, Jason Statham, this guy is just awesome in action movies, he makes such a great lead in any action role and is such an awesome tough guy that you don't want to mess with.

    Based off the 70's film "Death Race 2000", it's 2012, the economy is in bad shape, employment is down, but entertainment is up, especially in prison where racing has become the new gladiator fights. Jenson's wife is murdered and he is framed for it, landing him him in prison, where he is approached by the leader of the Death Race program, Hennessey, and she offers him to race for his freedom if he can make it out alive. But there's something a little deeper when it seems like he was put in prison on purpose so he could race.

    Death Race is just pure entertainment, it's nothing original, we don't really know the characters that well or what their motives are, but the reason why this movie is enjoyable is just the awesome action that is endless. I loved the editing, it made the race scenes that much more exciting. I would recommend this movie if you are looking for fun, like I said before we just need a pure action movie sometimes and Death Race is a perfect film on that level. I had a great time watching this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again for a good time.

    7/10
  • wordmonkey20 August 2008
    Now here's an exploitation film that knows what a solid B-movie is supposed to be: an action-dense, amped-up, gore-soaked killfest. It's the cinematic equivalent of eating that entire box of Red Vines you bought at the snack bar, using them as candy straws to suck down your extra-large Coke.

    As a fan of the original "Death Race 2000," I was pleased to see just enough of a shadow of the original movie inhabiting the skin of the new one. Roger Corman's name on the producing credits gave me hope at the start, and his seal of approval seemed to mean something, perhaps as counterweight to Paul W. S. Anderson's track record of shooting mediocre video game adaptations. Surprisingly, Anderson rises to the occasion, effortlessly elevating a cliché-rich but fast-moving script to the level of a satisfyingly adrenalin-fueled confection aimed like a bullet at the A.D.D.-addled brains of the short-attention-span generation.

    Set in an "Escape From New York"-style dystopic prison-culture (that sounds suspiciously like current American society), slaughter happens, stuff blows up, and the weak are culled like bunnies caught in the headlights of gas-sucking American muscle cars. Fans of the "Twisted Metal" video game will love the newest wrinkle in the race, the addition of weaponry – a needed bloody bump for version 2.0. And what a bump it is, with each car's chugging machine guns indiscriminately spewing hot rounds at every foe, shredding Detroit steel like it was used Kleenex. It's unabashed gun fetishism at its gleeful best, and it makes you want to strap an M60 to the hood of your Prius in order to cut your commute in half.

    Jason Statham does his standard tough-guy job as the scowling Frankenstein, Joan Allen plays a ball-busting warden (perhaps a bit in the mold of Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched), and Ian McShane of "Deadwood" has a solid cameo as the prison-wise mechanic, Coach. Even Machine Gun Joe gets a new incarnation in the form of Tyrese Gibson, who thankfully is nothing like Stallone's blustering Italian meatball.

    I loved it, and can't wait to see it again in a theater with enough bass to pump up those impact crunches to the bone-jarring level they deserve.

    Yeah!
  • I shouldn't write reviews for movies like this because it feels like I'm lining up to kick a puppy. A movie like 'Death Race' can only be judged fairly through a set of lowered genre expectations. I'll try but I'm not making any promises. It is fun, very loud and unabashedly dumb. It was never envisioned to be anything other than an attempt at 'cool.' The average viewer will - without fail - be able to pick out every moment where Paul W.S. Anderson had an idea during the script writing and thought to himself "That'd be awesome!" before looking around the room for someone to high five. I shouldn't pick on him because I actually do enjoy his movies. He isn't trying to make 'Casablanca'; 'Robocop' is more his style. Just without the boring stuff like characterization and development. And as little subtlety, satire or nuance as needed. Unless unintentional or totally by mistake and ironic -- That'd be alright.

    This movie's lone strength is the special effects and it lives and dies by the car chase, the machine gun firing and the gory death(s). Michael Bay, eat you heart out. Anderson knows the art of kaboom and action junkees should be satisfied with his efforts here -- especially during the second race when the 'Dreadnought' enters the race. As long as you numb your brain into not asking serious questions about things like physics. Or how massive amounts of armour on a car wouldn't make flesh and soft tissue any safer in horrifying car crashes. Or how the American economy of the Dystopian future has crumbled, but 70 million can still afford the pay-per-view price to watch. Maybe some of the viewers are from Canada.

    If you were to put any consideration into serious film criticism where 'Death Race' is concerned, then you'd be the first one. The movie is so predictable, lazy and unambitious that it asks you to hand it the popcorn. In fact, have you seen the trailer? You've seen the film. Tyrese's character is homosexual, which I thought was stunningly inventive given the scriptwriter. Sliding back into predictability, it is used solely to make a few tasteless jokes before being forgotten about. Pretty standard fare for Anderson. If you've watched his other films, you know exactly what to expect. Except less. Brain still hurts too much to think about it. I think the annoying thing is that Anderson has potential. I wouldn't keep going to his movies if I didn't enjoy them. It annoys me when the problems at script level are so apparent. He has a tendency to go to predictable places: Requisite gay jokes for the prison? Check. Incredibly hot women on screen? Cue horny Rap music since I need a musical cue to point out the obvious. I'm annoyed when one character asks another if they think that they're really the best choice of parent for their offspring and the second character says later "Someone once asked me if ..." like they and the audience have forgotten the specifics of the first conversation. The audience doesn't need to be spoon-fed the obvious. It's a weakness that I hope Anderson can shed. He clearly loves making movies. Trusting the audience a little more and giving us some credit might let him make better ones.

    The crazy thing is that despite it all, I enjoyed 'Death Race.' It is flawed from top to bottom but wears the flaws so honestly and endearingly that you really shouldn't hold it against the movie. Need to go see a mindless distraction for an hour and a half? 'Death Race' isn't a bad choice. With 'Death Race' you get exactly what you expect and exactly what you deserve.
  • Definitely better than the ridiculous "Righteous Kill", that we had the doubtful honor to view today also, at the same press screening, here in Bucharest, Romania.

    "Death Race" is a honest to God action movie, without any bigger-than-life pretensions. The script follows correctly an old tested and tried recipe, everything is at its place, and although you can easily plot out the whole course since the beginning, somewhat even this sounds good - you simply have the guilty pleasure of savoring again a story that you know from dozens of other movies.

    The influences from the racing video games are explicit, and well mastered - me, I fully felt as while playing "Death Rally". Even certain aerial shots are obvious quotes from the computer game imagery. The narrative is nervous and thrilling, the effects professional, the violence degree precisely balanced. Maybe the main virtue of the movie is the cinematography, with admirable chromatic and plastic values. All in all, what it promises, it delivers: a cheap show, well done.
  • I was able to attend the advanced screening here in Dallas and must say I enjoyed myself immensely. While anyone going into this film expecting anything more then a thin veil of a plot will be sorely disappointed, it will definitely entertain those who have the right expectations. That said, this is a no holds barred, testosterone fueled thrill ride. Think of the game Twisted Metal, then throw in convicts, a greedy warden looking only at the profit and you have Death Race. While the movie has plenty of explosions, machine guns, armored cars, gore and beautiful females, there was enough humor and sentiment thrown in to make it all seem worthwhile. Definitely an entertaining film, and one that any over-the-top action movie junkie will surely add to their collection.
  • "Death Race" puts me in a moral dilemma. Its deliberately trashy, shallow and inept, and for some reason I still like it. Making my feelings even more conflicted is the fact that it was directed by Paul W.S Anderson, a director who tries to turn movies into video games, and always fails. But as they say in Hollywood "you're only as good as your last picture" so Anderson is as good as anyone right now.

    Not too far into the future our economy has collapsed (maybe McCain won), poverty reigns supreme and crime has become unstoppable. The prisons are filled beyond capacity, and Americas number one form of entertainment is watching the inmates fight to the death. The fights to the death got old and America needed something new. Death Race was invented. The concept is the same as death fighting, only you slug it out in an armor plated car with machine guns. The last man alive wins, and if you win enough races, you win your freedom.

    Enter Jensen Ames, a former Nascar driver prior to his prison conviction, who loses his job when the local steel mill is closed. He goes home to his wife and infant daughter, only to have a masked man break in and kill his wife. Ames is framed for the crime and sent to prison.

    Ames is sent to prison, where the warden Hennessey, played with excellent restraint by Joan Allen, informs him that he must replace Frankenstein, the most popular death racer, if he is ever to leave the prison. Ames agrees, and the games begin.

    As a satire "Death Race" completely miss fires. The opening prologue informs us of the downfall of American society, and its never brought up again. Were informed that Death Race has become more popular then the Super Bowl with more then seventy million viewers but we never see one of those people watching. For some reason the drivers are paired with sexy women to navigate, even though they have a pit crew to do that. The women are in it for ratings, to make a statement about our own for sex as well as violence, but the viewers cant see the women inside the cars, so how do they help ratings? Just a few examples of the missed satire.

    But this isn't an Oliver Stone movie. When you buy a ticket to see "Death Race", you want to see some death and some racing. And you get both, but mostly death. The racing scenes are electrifying. The combination of great stunt work, special effects and art direction give this films action the boost of adrenaline it craves. Andersons vision is to immerse us in a "Twisted Metal" video game, and he pulls it off with magnificent results. He captures the sadistic mentality of "Twisted Metal" perfectly. One driver turns his car around just to shoot another driver.

    "You cant drive backwards" his partner remarks…I beg to differ. That scene will remind "Grand Theft Auto" fans of many rampages.

    Anderson keeps his eyes on the finish line and "Death Race" moves towards its conclusion in a heart beat. Despite my immersion in the story, it was way too predictable. The framed for murder set up is too obvious, and before you can even figure it out for yourself they give it away. And as for the ending, only a few things can happen at the end a prison movie, and you know what they are. But despite the twists you can see coming a mile away, they're still satisfying. "Death Race" is one of the few examples where a bad script can become a good movie.

    The acting is wonderful all around. Jason Statham is a read deal action super star. He's got the physique of Van Damme and a million times the acting ability. His character's quest to see his daughter gives the film its only sliver of humanity, and all a prison movie needs is a sliver.

    Joan Allen as the warden plays her character so tightly she could probably crack a cashew with her but cheeks. Hennessey is so tightly wound I often wondered is she was going to implode. And towards the end she gets a chance to deliver some perfectly timed profanity. Maybe the last four letter words you;; ever hear out of her mouth.

    Newcomer Natalie Martinez has infinite sex appeal as Case, the sexy vixen who rides in the passenger seat beside Ames. But more then a pretty face she gets a chance to act, and proves shell be around for years to come.

    Ian McShane is perfect as the simply named Coach. His job is to coach. His weathered face and gravelly voice perfectly fit's the prototype of a man who's spent a long time in prison. But he was good in a stinker like "Hot Rod", so its no surprise here.

    Director Paul W.S Anderson has always attempted to make his films into video games, and "Death Race" really does play like a video game. That's the films intention and it works. It satisfies the blood lust lurking deep within us all. Society hasn't gotten to the point where we watch snuff films but watching fictional people kill each other is still loads of fun, and so is "Death Race".

    ¾ stars
  • I just saw this film last night at a premier in Portland Oregon.Im not gonna give away any of the story because there isn't much of one which is fine in this case. Explolsions and murder and hot women plus Jason statham equals good movie. I went into this film expecting it to be disaster,and i say this only because I'm anonymous... it was good. Plenty of wow moments to cringe at and not just me but the whole audience. The driving does get a little repetitive but kudos to the director Paul w.s. Anderson for mixing it up. Plus it is a revenge story which everyone loves. BOTTOM LINE if you want to be entertained and don't mind a some violence see it it is worth the price of admission.
  • helmutty29 August 2008
    As many comic books, games and original movies are being remade, director Paul W.S. Anderson is not new to those remakes. He adapted Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat and AVP. Now he remakes the original movie Death race 2000. Not surprising. While watching this movie, I realised that he still has his habit of making games plots. Death race plot is quite similar to those racing or survival games plot. It reminds me of DOA (Dead Or Alive) which Paul produce.

    The story: Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for murdering his wife. He is then sent to jail. Hennessey (Joan Allen) picks him to join the brutal surviving game. He has to kill the other inmates who join the game. The prize is to get his freedom. Every inmate will get his own partner. The partners are mostly some hot chicks. From there, exciting vehicles chases scenes and blood ooze out. There isn't much gore but there are blood and language. The plot is so simple but the idea and the chase scenes make my heart pound. It is like watching a survival game unfolding by itself.It just explode the screen and your time and nothing else. And you won't care about the plot, you will just care about the thrilling game.

    Overall: Those expecting a move to kill time, this is one. Those who want to watch another "The Dark Knight" movie, this is not the movie. It is not bad for mindless action flick.
  • goalieboy4522 August 2008
    I went into Death Race with really no idea what to expect from it. I am a big fan of Jason Statham movies but the concept of this movie hadn't really made me too excited to see it. Nevertheless this is a great movie, the humor is spot on throughout the movie, though this is definitely no comedy. The action is fast paced throughout and they come up with some pretty creative ways for characters to get killed. I found the story to obviously be a bit far fetched with it being people racing in a prison and all but never that didn't ruin the movie at all and I ended up loving the storyline. Overall, the acting was great, and it had great effects and a good storyline. I consider this a must watch for those who love action movies. 9/10
  • tubby120 May 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jason 'one-dimensional' Statham appears in another film of brainless action and mind-numbing car races. The script is cheap recycled material, which exploits the unimaginative crash-bang-wallop of the film.

    The films key audience is the young-gamer, gizmo's generation. The film is created as a fast-paced action computer game hoping lots of crashes, burning cars and weaponry will entice. For the majority Death Race is way too brash, ugly and destructive to appeal, indeed the car scenes are messily edited and repeated.

    If the stereotypical and annoying characters are not enough to halt proceedings the endless one-liners should do the trick. This is where I can give Statham credit, he does have the ability to churn out cheesy and ill-opportune 'one-liners' with an ounce of believability and authority, which his co-cast cannot do.

    Death Race is unashamedly one-dimensional and the idea that placing a few guns on tops of cars will appeal and make this an engaging film is hard to fathom. However, nowadays if you want to make money throw in some cars, guns, girls and booming hip-hop and you seem to generate an odd following.
  • The picture is set in the near future (2012), there the ultimate sporting is the Death Race where contestants get score points for running drivers down and sacrificing themselves. It's a futurist international sport , a violent and bloody car race where the drivers score points for hitting other vehicles. Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is the hero behind the wheel, posing as Frankestein, and his nemesis the various killers drivers. He's a good guy wrongly accused of killing and locked on Terminal island. Jensen is coerced by warden Hennessey(Joan Allen) to enter Death Race , a gladiator-like televised fight-to death. A race against dangerous prisoner-drivers, as Machine Gun Mason (Tyrese Gibson), Pachenko (Max Ryan), Gunner (Jacob Vargas) and several others (Robin Shou, Robert LaSardo). Jensen is helped by coach (Ian McShane) and accompanied by a gorgeous eye-popping youngster (a sexy girl Natalie Martinez).

    This exciting movie is full of noisy action, moving scenes , thrills, chills and lots of violence. Spectacular race cars with skillful stunts and barely computer generator effects. From the beginning to the end the unstopped action and the emotions are interminable. Stirring and lively musical score by Paul Haslinger along with a colorful cinematography by Scott Kevan . The motion picture is professionally directed , produced and written by Paul W. S. Anderson ,a noted producer and director of super-productions ( Resident Evil saga, Alien Vs Predator, Soldier, Event Horizont, Mortal combat). It's based on the classic B movie (1975) with the same title directed by Paul Bartel with David Carradine, Simone Griffeth and Sylvester Stallone , a cult favorite that here is correctly adapted adding much more action and violence. Nowadays Paul W. S. Anderson is preparing its following with similar technician and artist equipment.
  • If "Mario Kart" was a movie and it had characters similar to the video game "Twisted Metal" this movie would be it. I really don't see why critics bash this movie so much, yes it isn't a Oscar worthy movie nor is it a very intelligent movie. But it sure is entertaining and was so stupid to the point it got irritating. People that decide to see this movie should know what they are getting into or else they might dislike it. Overall when I saw this movie in theater I really enjoyed it and had a blast with it, sure some of the plot holes are obvious but this is still a solid thrill ride. Personally I had a blast with this movie and Jason Statham was good in this role since he fit in with his tough guy exterior and I bought it. There is good amount of sex appeal and Ian McShane is just right as well while playing the character named Coach. This is a thrill ride that is like watching a actually entertaining video game movie. However if the script was a bit more intelligent it would have been better though although I didn't expect a solid script from Paul W.S. Anderson.

    7.4/10
  • Jonny_Numb11 January 2009
    Jason Statham plays one type of character, but he almost always plays it to perfection: the suave, stubbly, and sometimes smarmy would-be Bond from madcap B movies like "Crank" and "Ghosts of Mars." Casting him as the lead in any film brings certain expectations–basically, that our muscled mofo will deliver a smackdown to the badguys while delivering some catchy one-liners.

    Paul W.S. Anderson is a director who makes one type of movie (granted, his "Mortal Kombat" is my only point of reference): the uber-rotten video game warm-over shot like something even more ADHD than a music video. His masturbatory editing makes the works of Michael Bay look patient and subtle by comparison.

    So, after a year of being perpetually disappointed in Hollywood blockbusters and franchise revivals (oh, Indy, how could you?), "Death Race" has given me something worthy of hate, and deserving of the dishonor of being the worst film of 2008. When Statham is stripped of his predictable (yet consistent) charisma, someone has messed up something awful.

    Inspired by the cult classic "Death Race 2000," this is a prime example of a remake done wrong, where ear-splitting sound and migraine-inducing camera moves make one feel trapped inside a two-hour earthquake. The action doesn't thrill, and the characters are developed through egregious one-liners and cliché events. In 2012, the economy has collapsed, and an American public (the upper-class only, I guess) eager to let off some steam finds their opiate in "Death Race," a pay-per-view event where prisoners condemned to die on Terminal Island vie for the ultimate prize: freedom. It's an old premise, but one that has been retooled to entertaining effect in other films.

    Even lousier than the dialog and Anderson's attention-deficit technique is the characters, who are not only a catalog of bland stereotypes (Family Man framed for a crime he didn't commit; Stuttering Nerd; Hardened Old Sage; and the token Hip-Hop Styled Badass), but utterly fail to convince us for a second that they're hardened killing machines deserving of their sentence. As a result, the bloodshed that ensues is pedestrian and ineffectual (and even worse when played for ironic effect); while the outcome of "Death Race" is as predictable as you would expect, the total lack of B-movie charm (and fun) is simply unforgivable.

    Stranded in this murk is Joan Allen, who, as the black-hearted warden Hennessy, seems to be channeling an androgynous cross between Louise Fletcher and Keanu Reeves, but is relegated to standing around watching monitors while delivering Anderson's subpar dialog. What should come across as icy, methodical menace (with maybe a bit of tongue-in-cheek irony) is instead sleepwalking boredom, proving that great actors cannot always salvage terrible scripts. When even the head villain is a cliché devoid of personality (to the point where her eventual fate elicits total indifference), you know you have messed up something awful.

    For all its efforts to pummel on a miserably superficial level, "Death Race" left me feeling nothing–not empathy for the characters, not excitement at the alleged "action" (which is cut so rapidly it's next to impossible to tell what's happening, and where), just a void left unfilled by anything resembling experience. It's a waste of time and talent, plain and simple.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Being a big fan of Roger Ebert one thing I have quickly noticed about his reviews is that the worst insult he can give to a movie is " that it resembles a video game " . Click on the external reviews on the left and look up Ebert's review and you'll find in one short paragraph of his that it's impossible to add anything because he has all the angles covered

    Still I may as well contribute something to this page . At least one thing the producers of this remake have got right is if you don't like the opening sequence then at least they're putting their cards on the table letting the audience know where the movie is going . If you get invited round to a friend's house for them to show you their new racing game on their play station and you're not very entertained merely watching a game then you probably be too thrilled by watching this remake of DEATH RACE 2000

    One can't help thinking that after casting Statham and McShane perhaps the producers should have just made their own film instead of doing a remake of a film that far from being a masterpiece was at least very entertaining . The first third of the movie is by far the best part . Blue collar worker Jensen Ames receives his pay packet at the end of the month and goes home to his wife and before he knows it he's in a rough tough prison where inmates are beaten up for infractions such as swearing or because the guards feel like it . Looking on the bright side inmates are still allowed to smoke so it's not all bad . Good news too if you're a lesbian in a female prison because the inmates make Angelina Jolie look like Freddy Kruger

    Since the film then needs to justify it being a remake featuring car chases and a large body count logic gets thrown out of the window . It's only the roughest toughest meanest mother crushers who get to take part in these gladiatorial racing games . Anyone doing time for minor crimes such tax evasion is not considered so it's okay for Ames to go on a race killing members of the Aryan brotherhood and other assorted violent criminals because Ames is really a good guy . It's never revealed why the state would think it's a good idea why all these psychos get armoured cars complete with 30mm cannon to race about in but one never questions the internal logic of a video game
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Regardless of the politically-correct finish to this film and the predictable prison stereotypes, this was a fun film to watch simply because it entertained. It was a good diversion, filled with total nonsense mayhem and testosterone-gone-wild. In other words, this was a typical Jason Statham film. No matter how many of these ultra-macho men he plays, he gets away with it with charm and likability.

    In this story, Statham as "Jensen Ames" is like David battling Goliath but with no slingshot and Goliath having a flame thrower and AK-47, too. Yet, you just know "David" will a find to defy all odds! Here are some movie clichés of today. See if they sound familiar.

    Not only has our hero suffer with his beautiful and loving wife murdered, but he's framed for the kill. Sent a brutal prison, he finds the female warden is responsible, and the killer of his wife also is in the jail. Too add salt to the wounds, that guy taunts "Jensen." Filmmakers haven't made a nice-guy warden since the 1950. Here, the sadistic boss is a woman: "Hennessey," played by Joan Allen, who I thought had some class before I saw this film. Spewing the f-word, "coc-sucker" and a few other choice words, sort of ruined that image I had of her.

    Anyway, the mean old warden got our hero in prison there so he can be the new "Frankenstein" race driver. The races at her prison, it turns out, are filmed live and are big internet moneymakers for her. "Frankenstein" is the favorite driver of the computer-audience but he's too injured to go on, so "Hennessey" recruits Mr. Ames, whom she knows is a great driver.

    Mostly there are nothing but bad folks in here and a lot of ultra-violent scenes, one-after-the-other. You also have other cliché prison characters, the kind you see in all prison films since "The Longest Yard." Beware of jiggling hand-held camera scenes, if that kind of thing gives you a headache.

    Having said all that, I admit the film is interesting start-to-finish, the racing scenes terrific, the film effectively manipulative, and overall qualifies as a decent means of entertainment. Statham is the new Steve Seagal, Jean-Claude VanDamme, etc - but that's okay; some of their movies were fun to watch, too.
  • When you know you're going to see another pointless action movie, and you know it will have little to no redeeming value minus the action, and it STILL sucks, the problem has to be the action.

    From start to finish, the movie was bland and boring. I wanted to leave after the first 5 minutes as it was, and after that it was like sitting through one of those bad documentaries at school for the other 2 hours. The action was predictable and just downright boring, generic, and pathetic. Add to that the utterly ridicules dialogue scenes that told you things you already know from the credits mixed with clichés from every single action movie ever freaking made, and it felt like I was watching a made-for-TV drama, not an action movie. You've seen this movie before. Hundreds of times.

    The acting, as well, was horrid. The chick they got to play the cliché "bad prison woman" reminded me of Martha Stewart . . . dumbed down and made even more cliché than the real woman. At one point when a "bad man" character came on screen I had to say:"Look, it's Mr. Evil!" as he cackled with his huge nose casting a cliché shadow. Everything that could have been menacing in this film was laughable.

    There is no more blood in this movie than PG-13 fares like Cloverfield, and it wasn't as violent as the PG-13 The Dark Knight. Every scene was a cut-off scene without anything graphic happening, and at some points even the fist fights were cut-off scenes. I cannot think of any movie with "violence" as utterly pathetic as this one. It barely earned its R-rating through a minimal amount of blood, and the rest was PG all the way.

    I do not know why anyone would find anything in this entertaining. There was maybe a couple action scenes, and the rest was your mother's cliché TV drama. Am I the only one who wishes action movies were, you know, action-packed anymore?
  • Synopsis - In 2012, the United States economy collapses and life for everyone is not the same. Once a NASCAR champion, Jensen Ames, (Jason Statham), hits rock bottom and spent several years in prison. His life was improving and changing for the better after meeting and marrying Suzy (Janaya Stephens) and having a baby girl. Then the steel mill closes, and he loses his job. But that was not the worst thing to happen to Jenson that day. Suzy is brutally murdered, and he is framed for her murder. Jenson is sent to Terminal Island, the worst and toughest for-profit prison in the country run by Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen). She has created the country's most popular pay-per-view sport, a kill-or-be-killed car race where the inmates race to win their freedom from prison after 5 wins. Every inmate driver is driving a monster car that they built which is loaded with machine guns, missiles, flamethrowers, napalm, and no rules. Warden Hennessey convinces Jensen to secretly take the place of the late 4-time superstar winner, Frankenstein, and wear his metallic mask in the race. If Jensen wins just one race, he can go home to his baby daughter. To get to the finish line, Jensen must kill his competition before they kill him.

    My Comment - This is kind of a remake inspired by the 1975 movie, "Death Race 2000," in name only. This movie stands on its own. The title "Death Race" tells it all. If you want to see an action pack race where all the drivers go through a gauntlet of death, then this movie is for you. There are some scenes that take the race to the max. If you ever had road rage, I am sure you would love to be driving one of these cars. You can see why the for-profit prison puts on these races, because I calculated that they would make a tremendous profit of $12.5 billion for 3 pay-per-view races. Jason Statham played his usually part as the tough kick-ass Jensen Ames very well. I know everybody will like the ending. (Universal Pictures, 1:39 minutes, Rated R)(8/10)
  • Death Race was a perfect movie in my opinion. It was action packed, bloody, gore, and even sexy. It was a lot of fun to watch. I really enjoyed this movie because the story was great and it had a lot of meaning. This was a great movie to start ending the summer with. The acting was very good. Jason Staham played a perfect role maybe his best role yet. Tyrese Gibson added a good performance as well. The stunts and driving that was performed in this movie was amazing. The visuals were so cool and so were the special effects. the movie really was entertaining and a wild ride from beginning to end. Just strap in and get ready for a really fun enjoyable action packed film. This movie holds nothing back it goes for it all. The blood was crazy and their were a ton of people dying. I also loved the originality of this film. I don't think there are to many maybe no movies that are anything like this movie. The title for this movie describes the movie perfectly. This was definitely worth seeing for a couple dollars. I will see it again and again. It is way better than what I was expecting it to be. It isn't boring for one second in the movie at all. Another great thing was the movie was very unpredictable. Twists and turns kept coming in every scene in the movie. The outcome was very good. Overall this movie was great and you will be very happy in the end after you see this movie.
  • "Death Race" was written and directed by Paul W.S Anderson, a filmmaker whose toiled away trying to make the perfect movie based on a video game. I'll give you a few moments to process that before I say…yeah, that's right, he's made some really terrible movies. "Death Race" actually looks sort of fun though, definitely a racing film that will erase the memory of the "Speed Racer Technicolor Dream-Coat" at least, and Jason Statham is usually so good in movies like this that he'd make "Fast and the Furious" look like "Beach Blanket Bingo" all by himself. This may be Anderson's first real entertaining movie, but there has been some question as to whether it really is his movie. Writer Adam Stone says Anderson stole his work, leading to some speculation of plagiarism and possibly to a denied wide release. So there are two questions, one of course will be answered if your reading this review and the other will be is this movie even worth stealing in the first place?

    Statham stars as Jensen Ames, a former professional racer turned Steel-mill worker. It's the future, 2012, and work is hard to find. Ames is laid off from the steel-mill and when he comes home, his wife is murdered by a masked assailant and he is framed for it. Months later he finds himself in Terminal Prison, the bitch to a domineering warden named Hennessey (Joan Allen). Since the prison system has become overcrowded, the prison participates in a death race, a pay-per-view event that allows people to watch cons in cars equipped with machine guns, rocket-launchers, napalm, and other goodies try to kill each other for sport. Hennessey wants Ames to drive and wear the mask of a famous and much-loved competitor, Frankenstein, so that her viewer ratings can stay up, and she makes the promise that if Ames wins the race, he can have his freedom. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Ames will become the new Frankenstein and its not long before he is going up against violent and vicious competitors, including three time winner Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson).

    Watching this movie I could just imagine a group of 13-year old boys sitting behind me, each wearing his WWF and Stone-Cold Steve Austin shirts, having a gay old time with it. So much so that I'm surprised the movie actually went for an R-rating. It's incredibly dumb and for the most part un-involving, but going back to the R-rating, it does have some decent carnage. The movie is shot in a dreary blue setting, letting us know that the world is no longer a warm and loving place but a cold, violent and ugly looking cess pool. The story means next to nothing and is mostly a three-stage race that gets increasingly redundant as it goes along. Cars go around in circles really fast, blood, bullets, and explosions ensue, people meet grisly deaths and then everything happens all over again. "Death Race" does have a few actual dramatic car duels however, one where Ames goes up against the man that killed his wife and another when he and Machine Gun Joe go up against a tank. The rest is take it or leave it stuff that will interest you only if your really gung-ho about your blood, guts, and souped-up killer cars.

    Statham is perfect for this type of role though, giving Ames a gruff, hardcore quality that's even more high octane than the cars. And Joan Allen is his perfect antagonist. Icy, manipulative, and devious, she makes Hennessey one of the better villains to come out this summer. Its just too bad she's not apart of a better movie. And like always, Ian McShane is gravel-voiced testosterone. I think that Tyrese Gibson is falling into a pattern here and I hope someone takes him out of it soon. As he showed in "Baby Boy", he is a much better actor than being the sidekick in racecar movies.

    "Death Race" has some fun and the actors do what they can, but its not so much a movie than an excuse to watch carnage and fast cars. When you see an action movie that's this dumb, you know the summer is pretty much over.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The trailer seemed to suggest that this is another take on the Running Man theme. Actually, the original Death Race came out before the RM novel, but I did not see it, so I do not know how close the 2008 version is to the one from 1975. However, I do know that the main plot of the 2008 version is essentially identical to that of RM---a guy wrongfully imprisoned and exploited for his skills in some gladiator contest, this time with tank-like cars. The RM featured some over-the-top characters and action that was clearly tongue-in-cheek, and was essentially a media satire with an action theme. I interpreted Joan Allen's involvement as an indication that perhaps this would be an update of that idea.

    Turns out, I was wrong. This is not "Running Man with cars", it's Running Man with cars, no brains, no humor, in the form of a video game (including ridiculously video-gamish sensor pads that cars have to drive over to get "weapons" and "shields"). Gone are any of the elements that could endear RM to a post-adolescent person, or anyone who can read and write: the media satire, the humor, the (mild) political angle. What is left is a lame-brained video game turned into a movie---I can almost see half of the audience manipulate imaginary game controllers in the cinema...

    In an online Q&A on mtv.com, the director has to face complaints about the lack of random killing of pedestrians, and does so by mounting a feeble defense around the observation that at least one person who left his car and was subsequently killed should count as a pedestrian, and that in his movie they went much further with the use of vehicle-mounted firearms. I suppose that kind of debate between the audience of a movie and its director is a fairly clear indication of just what to expect and not to expect from it.

    Another complaint in the same Q&A is that the trailer gives away the "entire plot" of the movie, in response to which Anderson reveals that he has seen the movie, and that it's not so. Well, I have seen it, and it is. The plot, of course, is paper-thin, and the fact that it can actually be revealed in its entirety in the trailer really says all you need to know about it. Plot is not what you should expect from this movie.

    But then what should you expect? It's not really funny (the funniest moment to me was when one of the characters discovers the essential uselessness of the co-pilots his creators have written into the script, and consequently throws out his co-pilot), it is not really sexy (all we get to see is a little bit Ms Martinez' cleavage---c'mon, if it's already R-rated, and considering the audience of adolescent boys on sugary caffeinated drinks, one could at least have thrown in some solid nudity, but no such luck), it's not funny, and the acting is non-existent (I can only hope for Ms Allen that this is the low-point of her career, and that things will be looking up from now on). It's really a ham-fistedly strung together collection of video-game sequences. If you own a game console, you could just put GTA or something like that in demo mode, and watch that instead. Saves you the annoying dialog and embarrassing attempts at plot as well.
  • There is no one I would rather see in an action movie than Jason Statham. Put him behind the wheel of a car and you have a formula for thrills and excitement that cannot be beat, even if it is on a track that resembles the boring NASCAR.

    Statham is his usual cool and tough self in this film which really doesn't have a lot to offer outside the race itself. Pairing him with Natalie Martinez just makes me want to know when her next movie is going to be made. She was so hot.

    There were other great performances from Joan Allen, Ian McShane, and Tyrese Gibson.

    There was also a very satisfying ending - but you knew that was coming.
  • bob-rutzel-126 December 2008
    Jensen Ames (Statham) is set up for killing his wife and goes to prison. The year is 2012 and the USA has collapsed and the Prison Death Races are the biggest thing on TV.

    I was sure I wasn't going to last long with this as it looked like it was going to be another video game movie and was all set to change over to Judge Judy. I was wrong. This is a good story, with good acting, dialogue, and cinematography. However, the real winners are the actual stunts performed on the race track. No CGI. Hard to believe, but no CGI that I could tell and at the end of the movie there is a statement that professional drivers did everything under controlled conditions. And, all I can say is WOW! OK, maybe there was a little CGI in here…….or not.

    Now, you have to understand, this is a race where there are few rules. Some of the things allowed are machine guns, rockets, smoke, oil, and spiked balls of iron to flatten tires. The winner is the one who is alive at the end. If any contestant wins 5-races he gains his freedom. Wanna play?

    I will say that Ian McShane is such a presence that he needs to be in more movies.

    Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes
  • If I could describe this movie in one phrase it would be this: pure f'cking insanity. Everything from the action, to the plot, to the dialog, is absolutely ridiculous beyond comprehension. But...It doesn't really matter...Because Death Race may just have the craziest and most explosive action of the year.

    Death Race knows what it is and does not disappoint. It doesn't take itself seriously and try to be existential and have a point. There is no point. Suspend reality (because even in desperate times, we ALL know that this will never happen), and sit back and enjoy the high octane adrenaline action. Few movies have as many explosions as this one. It's insane.

    Don't worry about the acting, as there isn't much to act. Jason Statham delivers yet another nuanced and subtle performance, filled with rage. Although 85% of the film's action sees our characters in the steroid pumped racecars, true Statham fans should be pleased with the amount of hand to hand combat as well (a lot was kept out of the previews, so it was surprising). Tyrese Gibson gives us more of the same, while descending into a darker role with ease. It's basically as if his character from Waist Deep was murderous instead of heroic. Joan Allen is the lone real performer in this movie, and she provides quite the presence as the Warden of the prison.

    Destined to become a cult classic just like the original, Death Race gives us some of the most exciting action of the year, while reminding us that we will never be as cool as Jason Statham. While the lack of iconic lines and characters is bothersome, the memorable action somewhat makes up for it. I do take points away from Death Race for being the most predictable movie of the year, and I'm not talking about the ending, which tries to be clever (*slaps Paul W.S. Anderson across the face*). I was able to predict lines of dialog, how action sequences would play out, and which characters would die. Actually, the latter one isn't that hard to figure out...

    If you're looking for your typical mindless action vehicle that is sure to leave an explosive impression, Death Race will fit the bill. Don't expect greatness, because the film is all about low expectations.
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