My first experience with the remake of "Death Race 2000", simply shortened to "Death Race", was not a good one. A bad theatrical crowd and my general hatred for Paul W.S. Anderson's shitty scripts didn't make for a good time. With my brother's reviews for the original and its sequel now up on Blood Brothers, I felt obliged to revisit my time with "Death Race". Luckily with a proper mindset (dumb it down, yo!), I had a much better experience with this film and came to realize that this is a mighty fun and high octane, pun intended, little film that knows what it is and focuses in on it.
Death Race is the future's newest entertainment sensation. Pitting the world's worst criminals in a race to the death in jacked cars with armor, guns, and big engines sounds like it would sell tickets. When the first 'hero' of this race, Frankenstein, is killed so close to earning his freedom, the main lady directing the race frames Jensen (Statham) for the death of his wife to get him to replace Frankenstein and finish the last leg of the race. Can Jensen win the race, win his freedom, and get revenge for his wife? Its going to take some fancy driving and big guns to find out, I guess!
Don't be fooled by its sleek look and fairly large budget. "Death Race" is still a B movie at heart. That's how Anderson works as a writer and director I suppose. He makes bad movies that look awesome. This film has horrible dialogue and a horrible intro to get its B movie plot moving. With its cheesy explanation intro, oddly filmed sequence of Jensen's wife's demise, and occasionally dumb plot moments (the women from the correctional facility and their introduction of course) this movie isn't all that good. Don't think that it is. The plot is thick headed, the dialogue is simplistic, and the acting is over the top. In that sense, "Death Race" should by all means suck.
Fortunately, it has two things going for it. One: Anderson's directing style. It's sleek, its clever, and its damn entertaining. He has always been a great director with kinetic energy out the ass and it shows with this film. His actors may be over the top and his writing may suck some serious tree sap, but his look is sleek and over the top fun. The second thing that "Death Race" has going for it is that despite its poor writing, dialogue, and plot, none of that is used in any sort of abundance here. Nope. A good 3/4 of this film is car combat, which is what its best at. Honestly, its damn entertaining to watch cars shoot and blow up. Its like the "Twisted Metal" film I always wanted. Anderson does a great job with it too. That's what "Death Race" is about and that's what you get.
So its not a good movie, but its a fun and exciting ride of a film. "Death Race" hits all the right switches when it comes to B movie action and doesn't give us the nasty side effects of plot relevance or good acting. Its just fast paced fun and ridiculous action sequences. Hit the gas.
BONUS RANT: The fact that they had to put a disclaimer at the end of the film claiming that the cars in this film are dangerous and should not be made or used in real life is hilarious. Luckily, they don't know about my motorcycle in the back with the minigun in the side car.
Written By Matt Reifschneider