Heroes of the Zeroes: Death Race
Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.
Wait, 2008’s remake of “Death Race” from the director of “Aliens vs. Predator”? You’re damn tootin’. (And Paul W.S. Anderson didn’t really direct this, or at least what’s great about it. More on that in a bit.)
This list has taken readers far from shore. But before cutting bait and chancing it with the sharks, know that what lies ahead on “Death Race’s” Terminal Island is the most epically loaded triple-cheeseburger action movie since “Con Air.”
For those who couldn’t guess, felons like Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson race to the death. Here’s where the real director came in: Driving-team maven Spiro Razatos handled second-unit (read: action) duty, and flung gas, sweat and oil at the screen with the hard-cornered glee of having real, live Hot Wheels with which to play. (The behemoth Dreadnaught makes the Joker’s “Dark Knight” semi look like a Smart Car.)
Like John Malkovich and Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen (as an ice-queen warden with a 10-letter curse bottled inside) and Ian McShane (as Statham’s fourth-wall-breaking mechanic) roll in it like the happiest pigs you know.
Mind you, nothing goes on under the hood of “Death Race” that hasn’t been shot, stabbed and harpooned by countless predecessors. There’s not much under the hood period given its invocation of ancient Rome … by misspelling “Colosseum.”
But “Race” is the irrationally entertaining trash “The Condemned” failed to be. If this list were ranked, this is No. 365 — aka the miles per hour at which it consistently kicks gloriously dumb ass.