The only thing more thrilling than Jason Statham in a grimy white vest having the piss taken out of him for ‘talking funny’ is the trailer for Fast and Furious (see what they did there? By dropping the ‘thes’ it just sounds altogether more badass, non?).
But we’re not here to talk about the life-altering news that the original cast of The Fast and the Furious (see?) will be back with avengence in 2009 – we are here to talk about Death Race – and talk about it we will!
My only issue is where to start. All that zinging dialogue, all those highly complex twists – where’s a girl supposed to begin her review?
Statham in a tank top?
Alrighty then. He does spend a glorious amount of time shirtless. The British bulldog accent remains (which fills this Brit Chick with glee, since it’s always nice when actors just don’t bother putting on accents because they, and you, just know it would be shit.)
He’s some sort of grimy limey working somewhere desolate (Starbucks?) and you get the impression he’s a little bit whoah (e.g. dodgy) and only the little woman back home knows his true worth.
On returning home after a hard day being sexy, Jase pops up the apples and pears to have a quick shower whilst wifey gets carved up and – fuck me! – on his return he’s knocked on the bonce and wakes up holding the knife.
But! What is this? A set-up? For real?
So he was set up by some nasty bastard who wanted him somewhere else to do something else, because he was – gasp! – an infamous driver in his previous life (there is a bit where it is all explained but I must have blinked and missed it), though it is never really elaborated on again.
Perhaps it is just his experience as a London cabbie that gets him this far and into the driver’s hotseat? Believe me, as someone who has driven through central London, this is something that qualifies you to maim and kill others on the road.
But I digress.
Statham goes undercover (under the covers? Here’s wishing) as Frankenstein, the most popular driver in the Death Race who was actually killed a while back but has so far been replaced with inane and incompetent standins until they finally – finally! – decide to fuck up an innocent man’s life just to boost the ratings (Death Race is filmed before a live studio audience, like Sesame Street)…
(Actually, it’s live streaming, but what the hell.)
Rather like a tamer version of UK Big Brother, with less sex really – and more wheels.
Anyway – skip to the end! – Statham is pretty cool behind the wheel, seems comfortable with the maiming and figures out – though I’m not at all sure how – that he was framed.
With this discovery he becomes quite cross and gets all scowly (bulldog chewing a wasp?) and then those lousy crims are really in for it.
Queue a few crunchy scenes involving neck cracking and face squishing and then there are just two little badasses left on the track – thanks it part to a psychotic invention thought up by the meanest motherfucker in the yard, Hennessy (she’s blond and skinny, therefore EVIL) which wipes out most of our four-wheeled friends – so…
Are Statham (I can’t refer to him as his character’s name because it’s so damn bad – Jenson Aimes – named after the Jenson Interceptor – cringe) and Machine Gun Joe (ditto) really going to fight to the death or is there something altogether more elaborate going on here? Are they finally going to get a room after all that pent up flirting they’ve been doing whilst stomping the yard? Is anybody still reading?
Well, I won’t spoil it for you, obviously – but let’s just say – yes they do team up and everything’s just wonderful by the time the credits roll.
Except for the fact that everybody’s dead.
What I liked most about this movie was everything.
The way they kindly even helped us to work out the twists (condescending flashbacks, I love you), took care of the laughs, gave us all (male and female) something nice to look at (boobs) and neatly wrapped it all up in an oil stained bow.
Snaps to old Lovejoy (Ian McShane) for making me question everything I know to be pure and true because I fancied him, too.
All in all a rollicking good time had by all and I’d do it all again I tell you!