Some time in the near future, the American economy has collapsed. As a result, the crime rates go up and the prisons are filled in with inmates. Out of one such prison, Terminal Island prison, a reality show named “Death Race” is telecasted. In the modern day race styled on the ancient gladiator fights in the Roman Coliseum, the racecar drivers battle against each other on powerful cars loaded with weapons as the world watches on the internet.
Jensen Ames(Jason Statham), an ex-racecar driver, works in a steel plant to make both ends meet. The steel plant shuts down and Jensen returns home with whatever cash he was able to get from his former employer. On the same night, he and his wife is attacked by a masked man. His wife is murdered and Jensen is framed for the murder. He is sentenced to Terminal Island prison.
Terminal Island prison is run by Warden C Hennessey(Joan Allen). Hennessey offers Jensen his freedom. In order to get his freedom, Jensen has to take part in Death Race as Frankenstein. Frankenstein was a popular racecar driver on Death Race. His legendary feud with Machine Gun Joe(Tyrese Gibson) leads him to an accident which results in his death on the operating table. Frankenstein is heavily disfigured and wears a mask all the time. So, Jensen can easily act as Frankenstein.
Jensen is put under the supervision of the Coach(Ian McShane). The Coach is an excellent mechanic and designs the cars used for racing. He teaches Jensen the basics of the game and prepares him for the race. In the meantime, Jensen gets in the trouble with the prison gang named “Brotherhood” which is lead by Pachenko. Pachenko’s mannerisms reminds Jensen of his wife’s killer.
The race begins and Chase(Natalie Martinez) is assigned as Jensen’s navigator. The race has three stages and is spread over a span of three days. What happens in the race and how Jensen uncovers the mystery behind his imprisonment forms the rest of the story.
Paul W S Anderson directs this movie. There are good chase scenes and noisy explosions. The people gets crushed and battered in the most gruesome way. The emphasis is on mindless action and graphic detail.
Jason Statham puts in a honest performance as Jensen. But the movie do not have a good story. So, he ends up fighting well and mouthing cheesy dialogues.
Joan Allen is miscast as Hennessey. She looks out of place. So is the case with Ian McShane.
This is for cheap thrills. If you are an action junkie, this is recommended for you.
Picture Courtesy: Yahoo! Movies