- Paul W.S. Anderson
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, November 20, 2008
The story is quite clever: in the near future, big corporations take over prisons since the government is unable to handle them given their overpopulation caused by crime increase as a consequence of economic downfall. The companies that now handle the jails think about ways to do business and make the prisoners fight to death, which is not quite enough, and so death race is born.
A legendary racer whose face is allegedly so disfigured he has to wear a maskóand is nicknamed Frankensteinódies in the first scene of the film and is soon replaced by another great racer, whoís framed, The Fugitive-like, to make it look like he killed his wife. The prison warden, Hennessey (Joan Allen), offers him the opportunity to replace Frankenstein to make it appear like he didnít die, in exchange for his freedom.
Itís all clichť and pretty contrived at that but it works as a premise. Too bad thereís not much meat in the process. Even though Stathamís character, Jensen Ames, is quite aware that he was framed and kind of looking for revenge, itís all easily absorbed by the action sequences of the races. These are, as I said, videogame-like, which isnít a bad thing, except it is because the characters are as artificial as the racers of a race car videogame. Itís almost like we donít even get to see their faces, just the cars theyíre racing, and though this is not the case, it feels like it, because we couldnít care less.
The only two or three characters that we more or less care about (including a mechanic nicknamed Coach, played by Ian McShane) have all but their fate tattooed to their foreheads, and it plays by the book, paint-by-numbers, so we rely on the action to care a bit, but itís just not exciting after a while, but in fact quite tiresome.
Statham delivers the goods. Heís tough but heís also somewhat touching. I think heís got a Hollywood future. He has good enough interaction with Joan Allen who probably got the biggest paycheck for this and indeed has the most interesting character. As for Statham and costar Natalie Martinez, thereís not much sizzle there, leaving us to appreciate her good looks, which are in fact pretty good, but the lack of chemistry is the scriptís fault. Itís just too goddamned focused on the action and itís all so synthetic it turns completely irrelevant soon enough. Hand me a joystick instead.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter