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August 20, 2008

Death Race

Race It's a nice touch that B-movie king Roger Corman, who produced the original "Death Race 2000," is credited as an executive producer on writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson's grindhouse update of the cult classic. In keeping with the original's dystopic setting of an economically busted America, the only thing 2012 citizens have is their desire to be entertained by a prison-based reality show called Death Race. Jason Statham is well cast as Jensen Ames a former racecar driver turned blue-collar worker whose wife is brutally murdered, and he's framed for the crime. In prison, Jensen is informed by the prison's sadistic warden Hennessey (gleefully played by Joan Allen) that he will be taking over racing duties formerly held by the recently deceased Frankenstein racer whose identity is kept secret behind a mask. Sly humor intersects gritty race sequences wherein prisoner drivers race around a specially designed track on the jail’s industrial island property in vehicles modified with armor and weaponry. Satire and spectacle are balanced perfectly in this cynical and sexy thrill ride.

(Universal) Rated R, 105 mins. (B+) (Four Stars)


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