While watching this movie I almost felt like I was reliving the 80s. Okay, I was a mere child in the 80s, but from television and 'older' people's stories I've gleaned that it was a time of big hair, shoulder pads, one hit wonders, and incredibly over-the-top action films.
You would think that über-cool Brit Jason Statham (he of "The Transporter" fame") would not touch a film this cheesy with a ten foot pole. Now, if you believe me harsh what would you think of a film in which the trailers look like "Mad Max" on crack and use Guns 'n Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" in it. I think I am showing great restraint.
In the year 2012 the American economy has completely collapsed and the country is living through a time of upheaval. Former NASCAR champion Jensen Ames' (played by Jason Statham) life has quickly gone down the toilet. He has hit rock bottom, was arrested and spent a few years behind bars.
Once released he turns his life around after meeting the love of his life, Suzie (played by Janaya Stephens), marrying her and having a baby. Life becomes once again more difficult after the steel mill he works in closes and Jensen is without a means of supporting his family. The day gets even worse when his wife is murdered and he is framed for it. A two-time loser, Jensen is sent to Terminal Island, the roughest of the for-profit prisons.
Warden Hennessey (played by Joan Allen) has created the most popular pay-tv show which involves a race-to-the-death car race. Inmates are granted their freedom if they win five times. The cars they drive are not your average cars as they are loaded with such delightful extras as cannons and flamethrowers. There are no rules in this car race.
Hennessey talks Jensen into secretly taking the place of deceased 4-time winner, Frankenstein, by donning his metallic mask. If Jensen wins one race he gets to go home to his daughter.
"Death Race" is nothing more than an exploitation film. It is full of testosterone, speed, violence, and blood. There are no pretensions to being anything else. It is an action film on speed. Fans of those crazy violent car chase video games will absolutely love this one as there is not restraint or slow down in it. Action film junkies will get their fill and then some with this film.
-Theatrical and Unrated Extended Versions of the Film
-Start Your Engines: Making a Death Race
-Behind the Wheel: Dissecting the Stunts