The opening scene sets the setting that the US had an economic crash in the future, so jails became a place of money making which resulted in gladiator events that due to demand slowly escalated into death races.
This if followed by a fast car race where Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson) shoots down the masked driver known as Frankenstein, presumably injured or dead.
The movie then jumps to Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) who is fired from his job at the steel mill and later that night framed for his wife’s murder. Armes is sent to prison and brought before the female prison warden Hennessey (Joan Allen) who informs Armes that Frankenstein was dead and needed a replacement. The deal was that Frankenstien only need to win one more death race to win his freedom and since the audience loved Frankenstien so much, Hennessey is asking Jensen to become Frankenstien for one death race and if he wins, he goes free. There were Three stages to a death race and survival and finishing the first two races gave the remaining racers the chance to win being the first to cross the line in the Third Stage.
As the racing begins, Jensen learns very quickly that his wife’s killer is in the race from a repeated mannerism on the night of the framed murder. He also quickly realizes that Machine Gun Joe is out to get him. If that wasn’t enough, Jensen also learns that his femaile navigator, Case (Natalie Martinez), was instructed to throw the race just like the she did with the previous Frankenstein. This and a few other clues leads Jensen to understanding that he was framed and that Hennessey’s was giving empty promises of freedom as she never intended for Jensen to win or come out alive. How will he escape the death race where everyone including the prison warden is out to sabotage and kill him.
I really like the cast in this movie. Joan Allen delivered an excellent performance in another forceful and dominant female role, coming off of the Bourne series. Tyrese Gibson and racing movies just seem to go together after 2 Fast 2 Furious and a series of other actions films. Jason Statham continues to deliver action packed movies that create an almost realistic but surreal superhero.
There are intense starts, crazy deaths, massive explosions, fast paced fist fights, insane car contraptions, an array of weapons, great racing scenes, hot female navigators, and a fight to the death. The film isn’t really ever hurting for adrenaline or male appeal.
As for the audience, R-16 sets the age limit. There is not overly excessive gore, but there is the occasional blood and a few visible deaths with sound effects that could cause some to go squeamish. It is a movie with a lot of testosterone, but the director made sure to include Jason Statham with his shirt off multiple times showing off his insane musles for the ladies. I found the build of his body rather impressive even from a guy’s point of view. Statham does have a few quick shots of his nude backside as he is hosed down in the prison showers. The language is not horrendous, but there are between at least five or ten times where they drop the “F” bomb. It is a great guy film if you are looking for some action and entertainment. It is not a bad option if a girl likes action too. I would definitely agree that under 16 should probably not watch this movie, although a 10+ year old boy could probably still have a good time watching it without too much affect on him.
Reviewed by: Brent Dongell.
Rating: R16 – Contains V.
Duration: 105 mins.
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson.
Actors: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez, Max Ryan.
Release Date: Now showing.