Friday, August 22, 2008
Where should one go to experience car racing, computer game playing, loud music, pretty girls, machine gun shooting, and gruesome killing? Apparently UK director Paul W.S. Anderson's action flick "Death Race" (USA 2008, 89 min.), a remake of "Death Race 2000" (1975), makes a special deliver of a super sized combo with all these ingredients.
A beefy speedway champion Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for murdering his wife and sent to prison to rot away with other felons. Well, not really. The real reason he is sent to prison is because Hennessey (Joan Allen) wants him to sustain a killing race that is set inside the prison and broadcasted to violence hungry television viewers. In exchange, Hennessey promises Jensen the freedom if he wins the race. It is expected that Jensen is naive enough to believe her and join the violent race.
The story begins with a ludicrous logic. It seems that there still have law and order in "post-industrial wasteland of tomorrow," because Jensen has to be framed for murder in order to be locked up. That makes killing sounds like a no-no. Yet, once inside a prison, slaughtering is a game that everyone must play and killing is not only permitted, but the only way to survive.
Watching prisoners fight to death is an idea that was tried in "The Condemned" and failed pathetically. "Death Race" seems take that lesson and concentrates on fulfilling violent computer game player's fantasies—let real people play their computer game on a big screen, with real flesh and blood, and real pretty girls—surprisingly wearing seatbelts—sitting next to the race car drivers as decorations. Just like in a computer game, they drive race cars as fast as they can while firing deadliest weapons, and they never worry about the gas price.
Exciting? Yes. Loud? You bet. Making any sense? Definitely not.
For computer game addicted teenager boys, they will walk out this film feeling exhilarated. For everyone else, perhaps the only possible way to make sense of this film sometimes in the future is to start playing a computer game now, and make sure that the game is a violent one.