Death Race (2008) – By Brian Morton

 What you probably don’t know about me is that my ‘day job’ is as a radio engineer, and in that job I run a syndicated show called The C.A.R. Show, a show about car repair and car related issues, so I have an extra interest in car movies. So, when a remake of the classic Death Race 2000 headed to theatres, I couldn’t help myself, I had to get to my theater and check it out.

Now, I have to say, my expectations were pretty low. While Paul W.S. Anderson is a good director, I’ve never counted him among my favorites and all the news coming out of the production was that the ‘scoring’ system from the original movie (that had drivers hitting pedestrians for points) was taken out of this ‘re-imagining’, so I went into the theatre prepared to be disappointed. Boy, was I surprised, this may be the best action movie of the year, and it’s definitely the coolest car movie I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen a ton of car movies!

Set in the year 2012, the country is even bigger trouble than it is in right now. The economy has collapsed and the prison systems have been turned over to a company who runs them for profit. In order to make money, one prison has come up with an internet show that takes prisoners, puts them in cars outfitted with weapons and armor and makes them race to the death, with any man who can win five races being given his release. Enter Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), a former NASCAR driver who’s had his problems, he’s now working in a steel mill and it’s being closed. When Jensen is framed for the murder of his wife, he finds himself on Terminal Island, the home of the infamous Death Race. Now, his choice is to either race for his life, or give up and allow his daughter to be raised by strangers. So, Jensen gets in what may be the coolest movie car since The Road Warrior, a 2006 Ford Mustang GT, tricked out with armor, two front mounted machine guns and defensive weaponry that includes napalm!

Well, despite it being wildly different from the original, Death Race lives up to the hype. The action is amazing, the cars are the coolest and this is just a great popcorn movie. Don’t go in expecting any deep meaning or any commentary on anything (except reality TV obviously) but do go in expecting to be completely blown away by the car stunts and the action that this movie brings in spades!! I’m giving Death Race four out of four cigars, I’m already waiting in line for the DVD! So, until next time, when I’ll be explaining to the cops that I really need those guns mounted on the front of my car, remember that the best movies are bad movies.