`DeathRace`: good action but little else (IANS Film Review)
Some movies manage to be incredibly inferior in some areas
and yet manage to deliver wonderfully in others. The action movie "Death
Race" is a prime example where the plot and script are laughable but where
the action sequences are thrilling. At times it looks too much like a movie
which can be enjoyed only by a very niche audience.
Jensen Ames is an ex-con framed for murder and sent to a prison where the
prisoners are forced to compete in a high-speed car race with barely any rules.
The movie is set in 2012 and it does get a few things right. The economy has
collapsed in 2012 and sinister corporations have taken over. The background of
the economic collapse eerily echoes the present financial crisis. But pretty
much everything else in the movie is other worldly.
The races are at times spectacularly thrilling, but also verge on becoming
monotonous. The action scenes are staged well and it would have to be so since
the action is this movie`s saving grace.
The script is laughable. Statham is not a good actor by any standard and his
dialogue is mercifully monosyllabic. The dialogue serves just to intimate us on
the proceedings and no attempt is made to flesh out a character.
There are two very fine actors in the form of Joan Allen and Ian McShane. Allen
is an Oscar nominated actress and seems to have a habit of appearing in action
movies after having shone in the Bourne series. She has very little to do here
and tries to bring a touch of class and sophistication to this at times drab
Ian McShane impressed in the HBO series "Deadwood" but has not managed
to snag the role he deserves. Statham does the requisite grunting, wincing,
scowling and gives the intense gaze of a typical action character.
Since this is an action movie, we can literally tick away the necessary
ingredients. There is the cliché eye-candy in the form of Natalie Martinez.
There is a hint of background characterisation for her that seems sadly added on
for the mere pleasure of being looked at.
At times the movie is unnecessarily violent and even that seems strategically
placed to satiate the testosterone laden male teen. The gore is mostly momentary
and thankfully the action emphasis is on explosions during the car race.
For those looking for a not too demanding viewing with just enough action to be
thrilled for a hour and a half, "Death Race" is a good bet.