Sci-fi action adventure based on Paul Bartel's 1975 film 'Death Race 2000'. Jason Statham stars as former racing driver Jensen Ames, who is sent to Terminal Island prison after being framed for the murder of his wife. There, he is forced by the masochistic Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen) to compete in a lethal car race where the contestants must win or die.
Mayhem rules in Death Race
, a head-over-heels remake of the Roger Corman cult classic Death Race 2000
, in which cars become lethal weapons. The strength of this new version is its total single-mindedness about vehicular homicide; it has the virtue of no cluttering subplots or simpering sentimentality. And banish all memory of the original's wild satirical comedy: Death Race
is as grim as a dinner tray to the face (a reference that will be explained in a key sequence). In a slightly futuristic maximum-security prison, cons take part in brutal races around the island prison, their violent deaths watched live by millions of viewers. Jason Statham, possibly cast because of his driving dexterity in the Transporter
movies, plays a man wrongly imprisoned for murder. Joan Allen provides her brittle cool as the warden, who recruits Statham to assume the masked persona of a legendary driver called Frankenstein. Tyrese Gibson is Frankie's main rival, Natalie Martinez provides the fetching eye candy, but the acting honours go to Ian McShane, as the philosophical prison mechanic. One misses the cross-country race from the original film, as the setting here is claustrophobic and the cars are largely colorless and indistinguishable from each other. Director Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil
) continues to display the sensibility of a video-game addict, which will either be a recommendation or a turn-off, depending on your own tastes. At least it doesn't have the hypocritical moral blathering of something like the somewhat similar Condemned
--who knew you could be so grateful for simple, straight-forward head-bashing? --Robert Horton