Monday, September 01, 2008
DEATH RACE (2008)
Well, its finally happened. Jason Statham has finally made an action film that I could not like. After chuckling my way through the TRANSPORTER and its even more crazed sequel as well as the completely over the top insane CRANK I thought that maybe he could just not screw these things up. When I learned of his starring role and the basic plot of this update/remake of the excellent Paul Bartel movie I was excited. This had the makings of one hell of a fun ride. But than I learned that it was being made by hack-for-hire Paul W. S. Anderson and my expectations fell. This is the guy who made the atrocious ALIEN VS. PREDATOR the embarrassing MORTAL KOMBAT, and great-idea-destroyed-in-execution EVENT HORIZON. Even the one directorial effort of his that I like (RESIDENT EVIL) has been vomited on by two terrible sequels.
But- I went to check it out. It might be fun, right?
Sadly, no. Shot by Anderson as if he couldn't find the right lens its an action film in which all the cool (I guess) stunt driving and car crashes are rendered incomprehensible because we NEVER get the time to focus on what's actually happening. Once again we are subjected to an editing style best described as 'gnat's eye blink theater' where just as you begin to be able to figure out what you're looking at there's a cut to a closeup of something else. This kind of thing has become the standard in the cutting of movies and only rarely is it done well enough to be called a good idea. A good example would be similar types of edits in THE DARK KNIGHT but there we were given establishing shots so we would know where things were before crap blew up. In DEATH RACE I could almost never get an idea of what was going on and so I was quickly bored and pissed off. That is a bad combination.
The director can't even film the movie's several fistfights well enough to see what the hell is going on. If there is one thing that Jason Statham can do onscreen its stage a convincing fight but the ones here are just awful. How can you screw this up? Just back the camera up and let the actor and stuntmen do their thing. Simple. But not in this movie. When are director's going to learn that the audience IS NOT IN THE FIGHT! We want to SEE the fight! That's why we're in the theater! Back the hell up and show us the fist fight from a distance so we can tell who is hitting who and how. Ugh! Why am I having to explain this? Don't they teach this in cinema classes?
It really is a shame. Anderson blew one of the best ideas his sad little brain has ever puked up and he also wasted a truly dream cast. Everyone gives their all to this thin, poorly written mistake but when I can say that a film couldn't get anything out of a slumming Joan Allen or the usually fantastic Ian McShane you know you are in turdville.
I've said it before and I'll say it again- Paul W.S. Anderson must stop making movies. Now!