Death Race - Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, starring Jason Statham, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, and Joan Allen - Rated R (and unrated on DVD)
I guess you could call this post my "unoriginal, pointless story" edition. Death Race is a remake of the Roger Corman film from the 70's. Where that film was goofy and cartoonish and simply fun to watch, this new version loses the laughs and strives for brutality, which is a major mistake. How can you take a movie about criminals racing to the death for their freedom, and make it deadly serious? Anderson even admits to this on a featurette on the DVD, claiming he didn't want to make a "campy" movie? Well, why the hell not? If this film had retained the campiness of the original, it would have been very entertaining. Instead, we get ridiculous violence that's supposed to be realistic? It ends up being boring and pointless; a film that a few decent action scenes cannot save.
If you like Statham, then I guess this will be up your alley. He continues to play the action hero/everyman who can do anything. (Still not sure how he ended being an action star.) So basic stuff from Statham, Tyrese is just there (a disgrace from the fun way Slyvester Stallone played the character over 30 years ago), and Ian McShane and Joan Allen seem to stand around wondering, along with the audience, how they ended up in the film. Just plain mediocre on all levels. If you want a fun Death Race movie, check out the original. If you want to see the futuristic prisoner battle as a sick TV show, watch The Running Man.