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Death Race

By Jeremy Martin | Posted 8/27/2008

The truly subversive elements of 1975's Death Race 2000--the point system rewarding running over children and the elderly, the heroic assassination plot--have been replaced in this remake with an easy-to-swallow parable criticizing man's animalistic delight at the suffering of fellow human beings--or something. What grave moral should we take from a speculative future in which death-row inmates race for freedom in explosive-equipped cars on pay-per-view television? That sounds awesome. You're talking to a house packed with people who just paid to watch almost exactly that, in fact. But this B-movie remake fails horribly in nearly every way. The acting's lazy; the writing is ridiculous; the direction is a joke. Characters constantly drop tag lines and the camera hyper-jump-cuts between machine guns and women's breasts so much the movie feels like a trailer for itself. A man going by the name Frankenstein (Jason Statham) actually looks square at the camera and says, "You wanted a monster? Now you've got one." That actually made it into the final cut, which should tell you all you need to know, really. On the plus side, almost everything and everyone at some point explodes, gets shot or, at minimum, is set on fire and run over in slow motion.

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