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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Death Race

**** Death Race. Science fiction, action/adventure.

Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson.
Starring: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Natalie Martinez

We saw this at the theater on post the day after watching Wanted. Carl preferred Wanted; I preferred Death Race. He says it's because Death Race starred Jason Statham. He may be right. I wouldn't want to think I'm shallow that way, but.... it's Jason Statham. Julia would understand, right, Julia??

Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is an ex-race car driver, framed for the murder of his wife. He's sent to Terminal Island, a for-profit prison run by Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen), who makes him an irresistible offer: take the place of deceased fan favorite Frankenstein in the prison's Death Race.

It's a no-holds barred race with videogame elements (drive over lit manhole covers to activate your offensive or defensive weapons), and the last one left alive wins. Win five races, and you win your freedom. Frankenstein had won four races; Ames has only to win one, wearing Frank's mask, to get out of prison and back to his daughter.

The race is a 3-day affair, and during that time, there's some interpersonal drama between Ames and his navigator Case (Natalie Martinez), and with his main competitor Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson), whose navigators keep dying; and some revelations involving Warden Hennessey. But the race is the main focus of the movie, as you'd probably expect from the previews and the title.

The cars are a lot of fun--Frankenstein's car is a barely-recognizable Mustang--with all sorts of armor and weapons, and the stunts are great. The suspense of the race keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the Warden makes things unfair enough to get your adrenaline up.

The finale is over-the-top, but it works, since the rest of the movie is, too.

I didn't quite buy Ames's love life--he didn't seem too broken up by the murder of his wife, and he hooked up pretty easily with Case. It would have worked better for me if it had been his ex-wife he'd been framed for murdering, because wanting to get back to his daughter was believable.

What really made this movie for me was--well, in addition to the action and Jason Statham--the humor. Grim, sick humor, but I did laugh aloud. A good example is at the very end of the trailer above.

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Enjoyed your review of the movie. The trailers looked pretty interesting. Thanks for visiting my blog.
It was pretty much just mindless fun, but lots of it!
LOL Darla - Yep I totally understand about Jason Statham..YUMMY!

I really enjoy your movie reviews (all of them)! It give me an idea what the movies about and what to expected of them :)
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