DEATH RACE (Paul W.S. Anderson). 89 minutes. Opens Friday (August 22). Rating: NNN
Death Race can pretty much be summed up in two words: death and race.
A few others can be found among the plot keywords listed on imdb.com: armoured car, exploding car, exploding body, ejection seat, prison warden, loss of wife, framed for murder, double cross, napalm, rocket launcher, machine gun, thrown from car, impalement, shot in the shoulder, stabbed in the chest, shot in the chest, shot in the leg, shot in the head, neck-breaking scene, crushed to death and blood splatter.
Two other words not on the list that should have been? Dumb and fun.
A remake of the drive-in classic Death Race 2000, this slick update from writer-director-mayhem-maker Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Alien Vs Predator) is the Road Warrior on steroids. James Bond's souped-up Aston Martin would be shredded wheat against these Detroit deathmobiles.
The movie ? little more than a series of chase scenes, really, but who cares? ? stars Jason Statham, the charming, brutish heir apparent to Sylvester Stallone, and a deliciously slumming Joan Allen, who glare and growl at each other with such intensity, you wonder how they kept a straight face. Thankfully, Ian McShane and Tyrese Gibson, as fellow prisoners with a hard-on for heavy artillery, fire off a few well-timed bon mots to lighten the mood.
While it never reaches Paul Verhoe ven-like levels of social satire ? convicts race for their chance at freedom while a nation of bloodthirsty couch potatoes tune in ? Anderson keeps the story stripped and the pedal floored from start to bloody finish. And you have to chuckle at the cheeky end credit warning not to try any of the car stunts at home.