Doom, gloom define ‘Death Race’ update

Paul W.S. Anderson has forged a lucrative career directing cinematic adaptations of video games, including “Mortal Kombat” and the aggressively unpleasant “Resident Evil,” and if his productions tend to share common flaws — confusing, rapid-fire camerawork and a gratuitous attention to extreme gore — they’re rarely boring.

The same is true of “Death Race,” his sort-of prequel (movie takes place in 3000) to the 1975 cult favorite “Death Race 2000,” produced by low-budget exploitation pioneer Roger Corman.

Anderson — not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson, the fearlessly ambitious director of “Magnolia” and “There Will Be Blood” — has created a movie worthy of its own video game, fashioned out of a series of hyperkinetic car chases, gargantuan explosions and breakdowns in logic big enough to drive the entire plot through.

While “Death Race 2000” reveled in its own blood-soaked absurdity as David Carradine and a then-unknown Sylvester Stallone hungrily mowed down pedestrians, Anderson’s is a more humorless affair that finds Jason Statham (no stranger to the B-movie circuit Corman helped to create) wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder.

He can serve his life sentence under the watchful eye of a sadistic warden (Joan Allen), or he can race through a booby-trapped prison yard in a crazed attempt to win his freedom.

And so it goes. Statham, with his chiseled torso and menacing glower, is perfect for material like this, and he does what he can with “Death Race.”

In his best roles, Statham seems to be winking at the audience, as if he’s in on the joke but frantically throwing himself into every stunt just to be a good sport. Not here. “Death Race” is all doom and breakneck gloom, shot in deliberately murky tones that suggest a certain hopelessness for all involved.artsDeath Race 2000entertainmentmovie reviewMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Newsom orders indoor uses in gyms, salons, malls, churches, more to close

California is largely closing again amid a spike in coronavirus cases across… Continue reading

UCSF study finds young adult smokers at high risk of severe coronavirus

Roughly one in three young adults nationwide are at risk of contracting… Continue reading

Haney secures needed support to ask voters to create street cleaning department

Public Advocate proposal also advances toward ballot as anti-corruption measure

Giants, A’s to play exhibition games before start of baseball season

The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s announced Monday that they have… Continue reading

Riders should expect big changes when Muni rail returns in August

Reconfigured routes will mean fewer, longer trains through tunnel

Most Read