Death Race entertains with blood and action

Imagine a time when the United States economy collapses, unemployment skyrockets, crime spirals out of control, and private companies take over correctional facilities for profit. Well, according to the new action flick, Death Race, that will be in about 2012.

Death Race, starring veteran action hero and bad boy Brit Jason Statham, tells the story of ex-race car driver Jensen Ames who gets framed for killing his wife, and sent to the infamous Terminal Island Penitentiary. On Terminal Island, Warden Hennessey runs the nation’s most watched pay-per-view sport, Death Race, which is exactly as it sounds: a race to the death which allows inmates to try to win their freedom. Killing competitors is highly encouraged in this race, providing the outside public with great entertainment.

In the races, Ames assumes the role of “Frankenstein.” In order to win their freedom, inmates had to win Death Race five times, and the man they called “Frankenstein” had already won four. Frank was a man so disfigured from crashes he wore a mask, earning him his nickname. However, what most inmates and viewers did not know was that Frank had actually died in his last race. To keep ratings up, Hennessey forces Ames to continue the myth and pretend to be Frank. As it turns out, Warden Hennessey arranged to have Ames framed and sent to her facility to become Frank, ensuring that if he won, no real convicts would win their freedom.

As far as minimal-plot action movies go, this one was thoroughly entertaining. There is no real depth to this movie, which is great for people in the mood for a balls-out, blow-up, blood-splattering good time. Fast cars, gorgeous women, and brutal violence mixed with a “good guys win” conclusion make for a great ride. The film appeals to guys and girls alike with resident hottie Statham, and little-known Natalie Martinez as Ames’ navigator from the women’s correctional facility.

To give an idea of what type of movie Death Race is, imagine The Fast and the Furious meets Hitman; dangerous races meets intense violence — without the suavity of Timothy Olyphant in well-tailored suits. Ames drives a souped-up Mustang fastback, with heavy armor, and equipped with defense and offense. The so-called defense and offense include 50 caliber machine guns, smoke, oil, and napalm. And speaking of The Fast and the Furious, Death Race was preceded by several fantastic previews, setting the tone for the action-packed hour and a half to follow. These included a preview for Fast and Furious, the fourth installment of the franchise starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, Eagle Eye, an action thriller starring Shia LaBeouf, and The Transporter 3, third in the series starring Jason Statham himself.

So if you’re looking for a fast-paced action flick to distract from more serious issues in life, check out this movie. However, paying full price to see it probably isn’t worth it, so go for the $5 matinee showing instead.