Reviews

Death Race 2

2

Stall! Your! Engines! A half-throttled prequel arrives…

Death Race 2

Can a man drive faster than a heat-seeking missile?

That particular question has already been answered in the pre-credits sequence to the 2008 Jason Statham vehicle and franchise-reboot Death Race, where, lest we forget, metal-masked anti-hero Frankenstein (or at least, his original incarnation) crossed the line in a fiery ball of doom before the opening credits had even finished.

‘What’s that loser’s story?’ was the thought that was at no point crossing anyone’s mind. The mistake Roel Reiné’s film makes is that it assumes you care enough about who that bloke was to watch what is essentially his shrugtastic origin story, taking place a few years prior to its predecessor.

The back-story about how Terminal Island went from a regular high-security prison to a high-security prison that doubles as a post-apocalyptic Nascar facility is tediously unravelled in a film that mindlessly repeats every beat of the first one, and with less flamboyance.

Filling the formidable boots of The Stath, whose absence is keenly felt, is boyband exdrummer Luke ‘Bros’ Goss as Carl ‘Luke’ Lucas (“Even his name gives me a hard-on,” blathers someone at one point), a crack Transporter-style getaway driver banged up after a bank job goes horribly wrong, then manipulated into racing for his freedom against a dystopian-US backdrop.

Death Race 2 is so bone-brained, it even manages to make Paul ‘What Script?’ Anderson’s original remake look like an overlooked cult classic by comparison.

Despite his laminated, manicured features, Goss does have a skin-crawling, Walken-esque screen presence – he carries the film through its more face-palm moments and its videogame cut-scene narrative.

But Reiné has otherwise assembled a piece of cinematic anti-matter that, though it has its guiltily enjoyable moments – particularly the Beyond Thunderdome-style gladiatorial Death Matches, which the Death Races evolved into – is inferior to the original movie in every respect.

Gone is Ian McShane’s grizzled grease monkey, replaced by Danny Trejo’s wisecracking, spanner-wielding idiot. The film’s anti-climactic racing scenes are akin to watching someone else’s drunken game of Mario Kart.

The acting is (even more) awful. The dialogue is stupid. Even the girls aren’t as hot. So it’s left to Sean ‘See Wot Yow Can Dow’ Bean to chew scenery for Yorkshire as scowly mob boss Markus Kane – whether he’s berating minions or smashing up TVs in fits of pique like some apoplectic, Sheffield-born Nicolas Cage, he provides welcome respites from all the prison-based dullness.

But that still doesn’t answer the core question here: how can a film whose nuts-and-bolts premise is badass villains driving armed cars really fast end up being so pedestrian?

Film Details

User Reviews

    • racergirl

      Dec 27th 2010, 22:28

      4

      Never heard of Bros and didnt know he was a drummer (which is cool)but I do know that Luke Goss is a great actor and love what he did in Blade 2 and Hellboy 2 so glad someone from the UK recognises that he has great screen presents I love the "Walken-esque ref as Christopher Walken is a big fav of mine too and you are so right he does carry this film :) it's a fun movie for boy and girls, just didn't get why you only gave this 2 stars I give it 4

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    • thisfinger

      Dec 27th 2010, 22:59

      5

      Death Race fans are interested in Frankenstein story ever since David Carradine did the role of Frankenstein 2000; first Death Race just made us more hungry for more info on the legion. You may not be a fan of this franchise but others are; I am also interested in anything Luke Goss is filming since Blade II came out which launched him into my favorite kicka$$actor list. Hellboy II just made me a bigger fan as he rocked as an evil elf prince! Not sure why his music career comes up when clearly he is & will be in the acting role for now on & most people have no clue what the band he played in was; but name the movies & they get who Luke Goss is; The Man !!! Must see DVD it is action packed & I think filmed far better than first flick; plus most of the old actor would be gone since this is suppose to be about Frankenstein & how the show became such a hit TV program. Great story I hope it continues!!!

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    • Ronniedruid

      Jan 10th 2011, 21:35

      I agree with @thisfinger and @racergirl! Luke Goss is bloody awesome in everything he does and his band days ended over 20 years ago!!! O.o I've watched this movie a couple of times now and it's great!!! Can't get the two stars thing either. I would have given it a 4 at the very least!!!

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    • Jacob

      Jan 14th 2011, 10:17

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