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DEATH RACE, 2008
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DEATH RACE
Movie Review
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson and Natalie Martinez
Review by Eli Manning




SYNOPSIS:

Ex-con Jensen Ames (Statham) is forced by the warden of a notorious prison (Allen) to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.

REVIEW:

This is just one of those films. You just don't know where to begin because it's a movie that they set out to make and executed properly so you can't criticize them for it. But I guess the question is WHY did they make this type of film?

Death Race is perhaps one of the most blatantly violent movies in the history of cinema. A film where our hero, the main character actually kills someone in cold blood in the worst way possible and we are suppose to root and cheer for him for doing so. A film that is really a car race for about 90% of the movie and the plot is really not even in the equation. And a film that is a first where there was a 20 second title sequence at the end stating that it doesn't condone what it did in the movie and hopes that others won't try what they did in 'the real world'. A first in this reviewers history.

So cheers for Death Race for giving us a film that really isn't anything but a cool car chase sequence for 110 minutes. This is what the writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson (not to be mistaken for the Paul Anderson of There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights fame) set out to make and he executed nicely with it.

BUT, why doesn't he go a little extra in the plot so it can be remembered longer than Labor Day 2008?

The loose plot is about a man charged with a murder he didn't commit (aren't they all innocent?) who is sent to a maximum security prison. It's the future (only 4 years into it) and the U.S. society is in the midst of a depression. So in order to

boost the moral, they hold a Death Race in the prison using the criminals as the drivers in a winner take all or DIE race that's the hit in the T.V. world. The future of reality television so to speak.

So we have an interesting setup ala Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1980's film The Running Man. A setup that sparked this reviewers attention as I wondered what they were going to do with it. Of course they do nothing and I was left extremely dissapointed by it.

The mastermind of this show is the Prison Warden (Joan Allen). She's an evil bitch who is looking to boost the ratings of the show at all costs -- especially using the prisoners as robots who can be sacrificed without a worry.

Here is a bullet point problem with Death Race:

- 2012 is really not far away. Even if the U.S. hits a major depression (which it easily could), I don't think the population would turn into crazy people where seeing a real death live on T.V. would make them cheer for joy, no matter if it's a murdering prisoner.

- They setup up this reality TV show but never really took us out of the prison to show that there was actually people watching this show. And the plot deals with the audiences being fans of certain racers, but the racers are in their cars never seen by the population. So how can the audience be fans with them if they never see them? Death Race

- Each racer gets a navigator who happens to be a hot chick. That's fine I guess, but please explain why a racer needs a navigator? It's not like the Indy or Nascar people do.

- The ending of Death Race makes no sense at all. And was so unrealistic I couldn't help but laugh in a film that's completely unrealistic. It seems that the ending of this film needs a whole new word to describe how insane it is. I guess in the future we can call out of this world situations as Death Race like!

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Here's what I liked about the film:

The actors in the film are all solid and hold their emotions on screen so well, you can't help but be engaged in the story. I love to take this cast of actors and put them in a film that actually has a screenplay.

So overall, I did not like this film and I really think this is a film that shouldn't be made. The director has a lot of talent but maybe his place is in the 2nd unit directing world. That or maybe he should direct without writing his own script and making sure there is a producer on set at all times keeping an eye on him.

1 star out of 4!center>

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