Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
The new issue of Empire Magazine offers our first look at one of the explosive vehicular battle sequences from Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Death Race. Click on the photo above to enlarge. Before this photo hit, the Vegas odds of Death Race being any good were lower than Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe, and that’s saying a lot (and before anyone asks, there aren’t any actual Vegas odds…). W.S. Anderson, not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will Be Blood), is the guy responsible for Mortal Kombat, Soldier, Resident Evil, and Alien vs Predator. His track record is worse than Ratner’s. But for some reason this new photo has caught my interest. Is there any chance this thing might actually be good? Here are a few mini reviews from an April test screening:
“Liked it quite a bit. The racing scenes felt like Mario Kart on steroids, as they had little markers when the racers drive over them, they get certain things like offensive or defensive weapons activated on their car. The violence in this movie is pretty brutal, people getting hit by cars, and some impalements. Definitely R-Rated material. The plot was kinda predictable, but it was a silly action movie, not Shakespeare.”
“I saw it. I thought it was a solid 7/10. Pretty entertaining, if you don’t think about certain aspects of the story. I’m normally not that big into racing movies, but this one was pretty good. Apart from Event Horizon, it’s probably the only movie I’ve liked that Anderson’s directed. The thing I hated most though was the ending, since it felt too abrupt. I also thought it was kind of annoying when they played the same group of songs twice, but since it’s a work-in-progress I guess that can change. And yeah, it’s definitely going to be rated R. If I had to guess the MPAA rating, it would be something like “rated R for strong graphic violence, language, and brief nudity” (people get blown up, beaten, shot to hell, set on fire, run over; the f-word is said a lot especially motherf__er; Statham’s butt is briefly seen when he gets hosed down in prison). Not the greatest movie, but pretty damn entertaining (and the audience seemed to like it as well).”
“I thought it was rad for what it was, a silly action update of an old cult classic. Statham was solid as he always is, the Frankenstein mask was bad ass. Ian McShane ruled every scene he was in like he typically does, and Tyrese was kept to a minimum, even though he ended up being the only other real main character. Odd. About the ending, I was semi-shocked by the abruptness, and it almost felt like they left a lot on the cutting room floor for this workprint, like there were possibly scenes about Case that weren’t in what we saw. I’m sure everyone there wanted to know what happened with her. If you’re looking for a gory action movie involving cars, this is a sure bet, I’m sure it’ll make some money when it comes out. I agree with what’s been said about it being Paul W.S. Anderson’s best movie, and I’m not a big fan of Event Horizon so I guess that’s saying something. It could also have been that it was free, if I paid for it, I might not like it so much. Just being honest there. Solid action flick, the kind that rarely seems to get made anymore.”
“I liked it. Statham kicks ass (again). Joan Allen plays a baddie badder than Cruella Deville. The cars are souped up with machine guns, shields and crazy stuff. Competitors race for their lives. What’s not to love? There was this amazing scene where this tattooed driver gets creamed by another driver just as he is escaping from his wreck of a car â€“ whoa, one of the most amazing, shocking, BLOOD-splattering moments ever! No way its not gonna an R rating. Don’t miss. It doesn’t suck. Not for miles.”
A trailer is expected to be attached to Wanted, which hits theaters in June.
Official Plot Synopsis: Jason Statham leads the cast of an action-thriller set in the post-industrial wasteland of tomorrow, with the world’s most brutal sporting event as its backdrop. A penitentiary full of felons has inspired the jailers to create a grisly pastime ripe for lucrative kickbacks. Now, adrenalized inmates, a global audience hungry for televised violence and a spectacular arena come together to form the “Death Race.”
Three-time speedway champion Jensen Ames (Statham) is an expert at survival in the harsh landscape that has become our country. Just as he thinks he has turned his life around, the ex-con is framed for a gruesome murder he didn’t commit. Forced to don the mask of the mythical driver Frankenstein — a crowd favorite who seems impossible to kill — Ames is given an easy choice by Terminal Island’s warden (Joan Allen): suit up or rot away in a cell.
His face hidden by a metallic mask, one convict will be put through an insane three-day challenge. Ames must survive a gauntlet of the most vicious criminals in the country’s toughest prison to claim the prize of freedom. Driving a monster car outfitted with machine guns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers, one desperate man will destroy anything in his path to win the most twisted spectator sport on Earth.
Death Race is scheduled to hit theaters on August 22nd 2008.
Photo found via FirstShowing