Death Race

In one presidential term’s time, the economy has failed completely. With massive inflation, many have turned to lives of crime, and the prison system is now an overloaded and privatised industry where the inmates are forced to race each other to the death for their freedom. Man, that’s one angry homo.

It’s hard to get a grasp on Death Race, apart from to say it’s another feather in Paul W.S. “I’m Married To Milla “Leeloo Dallas Multipass” Jovovich” Anderson’s cap of schlock, with Jason Statham’s “funny accent” to lend it some gravitas. It has the potential to be very offensive, and it is a couple of times, but mostly it’s either silly or, not bland, but inconsequential. After seeing it and not regretting it (high praise!), I almost considered giving Rocknrolla a second chance. Death Race, while a passably entertaining bad film, makes other movies look good by association.
There’s not much to recommend it: in this day and age, if you want T & A, you’ve got the internet. That’s what it’s there for. Even for me, though, the introduction of pneumatic, slow motion female prisoners serving as navigators in improbably clothing was a highlight of the film (not for Joe, though, “cause he gay”, yeah, “goes through they ass!”).
Statham’s Jensen, upon being thrown into prison for the murder of his wife, is teamed up with Ian McShane (and, of course, part of the movie’s appeal is in seeing good or decent actors debase themselves), his “coach”, a Latino guy whose role is limited to some light welding and homophobia, and a twitchy obsessive compulsive fact hoarder. Quite why any of them are in prison is impossible to say, possibly because Anderson didn’t want the audience judging them either as too soft or too hard. I don’t know, food stamp fraud is a serious offence.

It’s clear from the start that Statham is innocent and that Joan Allen is an insane profiteer with her sycophantic brown shirt right hand man; in fact, it’s clear from the start exactly how it’s all going to go down. Perhaps knowing this, Anderson chose to pepper the film with violence that can only be described as reprehensible and unpredictable. I’ve never been offended by a death in a movie before (I don’t generally watch that kind of movie), but the Death Head sequence in this film fairly well appalled me. Each of the drivers (except Joe, ‘cause he gay) is supposed to be driving with a woman as navigator, and you’d think that each of them is killed as well, but you’re only once explicitly shown a female death in the race, and it’s here that you realise why you don’t particularly relish the blood murder of women. This movie in switched gender roles would be a true mind eff, and all movies would stop forever. It probably says something that the girl who gets drilled is the token Asian racer’s token Asian navigator, but I’m not exactly sure what.

The fact of the matter is Statham enters prison an innocent man and leaves a murderer. Certainly, kill or be killed, but if in four short years we’re watching this for real as entertainment – and honestly, it seems it would make for boring TV – I’ll choose to opt out. Statham needs Death Race explained to him, but it’s supposed to be a cultural phenomenon. The “real world”, as it is presented at the start of the movie, seems just like a slightly run down existence in which “honest work” is done for “honest pay”. The movie works better if you consider that Allen’s character is simply obsessed with the run of her miniature world of NASCAR with guns, but generally it doesn’t really work at all. It just exists, with a constantly shrinking cast of thoroughly unpleasant thugs. It certainly held my attention for 105 minutes, and I laughed at the suddenly sentimental voice over at the end. If you don’t mind rolling your eyes, some horrible, degrading violence, homophobic good times, women who exist solely (and admittedly, very necessarily) as eye candy in a world of scars, Aryan brotherhoods and full body tattoos, and gems of dialogue like this:

Okay cocksucker. Fuck with me, and we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk.

then Death Race is the movie for you.

… wait a second, what the fuck does that even mean?

One Response

  1. Mehran May 25, 2010

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