starring Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Ian McShane, Joan Allen
written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
by Walter Chaw Paul W.S. Anderson makes one kind of movie: the kind with lots of explosions and girls and loud music and hyperkinetic editing. The shitty kind. Whether or not these pictures work has nothing to do with the head. Death Race, a "remake" of Roger Corman's Death Race 2000, is a middling Anderson joint: it's not so bad that you want to put a cigarette out on your eye, but it's also not so bad that it's good--though it is almost so bad that it's great. Jason Statham is Frankenstein, a guy framed for the murder of his wife who happens to be a former racecar driver--a past that, in the near future, is a premium in the privatized penal system. After being laid off from his blue-collar job in an entirely superfluous prologue that only really establishes the picture as one made in the second W. administration, Frank gets "recruited" to drive in the titular pay-per-view reality program involving hardened criminals participating in televised bloodsport. His arch-rival in the Big House is Machine Gun Joe (marble-mouthed Tyrese), his pit chief is gravel-voiced Coach (Ian McShane), and his zombie-voiced co-pilot is hot-looking Latin mannequin Case (Natalie Martinez). If you're surprised to see McShane in a piece of shit like this (sadly, McShane seems to only be in pieces of shit post-"Deadwood"), you should get a load of Joan Allen as evil bitch warden Hennessey, a creature one part genre prison bull, one part television executive. If she's also a lawyer and a film critic, start looking around for four horsemen.