Top positive review
Not Statham's best but a really fun slobber knocker of a movie,contains spoilers.
on 7 April 2015
I have never seen the old film with Sly Stallone but i hear its a cult classic.This Jason Statham sort of remake may not be amazing but being a huge Statham fan i watch it now and then and have come to the conclusion this is a bad ass enjoyable action thriller that may not do much to get it Oscar nods or isn't the Stath's best but its a lot of fun all the same.
The story is about steel worker Jensen Ames (Statham) who is framed for his wife's murder and sent to jail but is giving a chance of freedom by the warden (Joan Allen)of the new place he is sent to.For a chance to get out he takes up the persona of Frankenstein a masked contestant in a contest called the Death Race a gladiator type game that gets broadcast on tv and the prisoners are the contestants,the race consists of a three part race over three days and is a bit like a adult version of Mario Kart with drivers using weapons and setting traps on their fellow contestants to try and knock them out the race,if a driver can win five times they so say go free.
Ames gets help with his car from Coach(national treasure Ian McShane),Lists(Frederick Koehler)and Gunner(Jacob Vargas)and goes into battle with a assortment of racers like Machine Gun Joe(Fast And Furious star Tyrese Gibson),14k(Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat)and Pachenko(Max Ryan)who we later learn is the killer of Ames's wife.After two races and some racers are eliminated(or killed)Ames knows that Joe knows his secret and decides to team up with him and Ames's beautiful navigator Case(Natalie Martinez)to escape during the race.
Will these three get out to freedom or will the evil warden keep them in to race this deadly contest for the rest of their days.
This story is very intriguing and wonder if this could happen in many years time.I like the plot though is like a mixture of other sci fi movies like The Hunger Games,The Running Man,Rollerball and even the tv series Gladiators where its one rule really and that is to fight for your very survival and its a action packed one.I also like the look and feel of this,its like a prison may be in 60 odd years,the look of it definitely reminds me of other movies like Robocop,Mad Max,Doomsday and Stallone's Cobra with a world that looks like the rules have all gone.
The acting is not spectacular but its not the type that needs Oscar worthy performances but the standout is our own screen veteran Ian McShane who is just fabulous as Ames right hand man and comes across as a funny sort of father figure and more of a friend than a colleague.Other top performers include Tyrese Gibson who is sort of crossed with his Furious character Roman Pierce and does a more hyper version of that and love his scenes with Statham.Another top performer is Joan Allen who plays a evil type version of her Pamela Landy in the Bourne franchise and oozes evilness and comes across like someone who only cares for herself.Last but not least we get to the main man himself Jason Statham who is never gonna win accolades for acting but in this and a few other movies i have seen him in(Safe included)i see someone who can act when needed a bit like Jean Claude Van Damme and is very good in scenes of action as well as more slow moving stuff particularly with the scenes with his daughter and when he comes across his wife murdered,he ain't no Crowe or DiCaprio but he is a decent actor when needed and acts the pants off Keanu Reeves,oh and of course will kick butt better than most and like nearly every other of his movies he is sensational in the action scenes and driving moments.
Talking of action this is spectacular stuff with fast cars,explosions,high speed crashes and awesome weapons and traps and as i said before feels like a adult Mario Kart and is hyper as hell with fruit loop drivers that make Statham look as sane as you or me,even though most the action takes place in a small track on the outside(and a bit inside)of the prison is never fails to entertain and if this was permanently on the track this movie would be a five star no problem even if the other scenes are decent especially with the Statham one liners or his meeting with the murderer of his wife which is a cracking confrontation its a better film in the car scenes and can imagine that a live action Mario Kart would be epic after this(this also reminds me of classic animation Wacky Races).The finale is very well played out and there is a top explosion towards the end of the sequence.
Its not a classic film by any means with some poor acting from other cast members and can feel slow when off the track.It can even for a film like this feel over the top at times and it did also at times feel like a poorer version of Arnie's The Running Man.Another criticism is about the time of the film its set in,its got a look of many years from now but its set in 2012 which certainly didn't look like that a few years ago and as this film was made in 2008 they should of set in about 2050 or something as the look of the film just doesn't match what our world looks like now,that for me is the big thing that annoyed me.
But if you get the time its set in and some of the acting and campy feel at times out of your mind you will hugely enjoy this slobber knocker of a blockbuster with a superstar leading it,a Brit actor on top form and some bad ass cars,races and fantastic action like a cross between Mad Max and Running Man.