DEATH RACE 2
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The 2008 Paul W.S. Anderson action film “Death Race” gets a direct-to-video sequel, or prequel actually. Telling the story of the original of the racer Frankenstein and the origin of the Death Race itself, “Death Race 2” follows convict Carl Lucas (Luke Goss) as he gets thrown into jail and is being targeted for assassination by the crime boss who originally hired him. As he tries to survive in the jail, he’s tapped by a production executive to lead the new “Death Race” contest that pits inmates against each other on a lethal track, all for bigger ratings and more profit.
WHAT I LIKED
While I’m a fan of Paul W.S. Anderson, I don’t think “Death Race” was his best piece of work. It was fun enough for violent, high-octane action, but it really just became “The Road Warrior” on a closed track. It wasn’t a waste of time, but it was a step down from the ridiculous media satire that was the original “Death Race 2000.”
This film is a prequel to a prequel, which already puts it into ludicrous territory. Still, the reason to see a “Death Race” movie isn’t for the plot, character or acting. It’s to see cars crash into each other and into people. It’s to see explosions made with gallons of gasoline. And it’s to see some hot chicks as well as the navigators.
For the most part, “Death Race 2” delivers on this, though the hot chicks could have used less clothes to make it a true modern direct-to-DVD exploitation flick. Director Roel Reiné, who most recently gave us the other direct-to-DVD sequel “The Marine 2,” is at the top of the curve for these non-theatrical franchises. I’d like to see what he’d do with a better script, though.
Still, for the few buttons that “Death Race 2” needs to push, it’s fun and looks as good as its predecessor did.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s a huge “been there, done that” feel to this movie. Luke Goss is no Jason Statham, so his performance is a step down. And consider the fact that “Death Race 2000” was such a silly and fantastic film, its prequel was a let-down. This prequel of a prequel is an equal let-down.
“Death Race 2” is perfectly acceptable, perfectly mediocre. It doesn’t go above and beyond what it needs to, but it also doesn’t fail at what you’d expect.
The Blu-ray comes with the DVD and digital copy of the film, along with deleted scenes, feature commentary by Reiné and the featurettes “The Race Begins: The Evolution of the Death Race,” “Cheating Death: The Stunts of Death Race 2” and “Fast Cars and Firearms: The Cars of Death Race 2.” As he did with his previous direct-to-DVD sequel “The Marine 2,” Reiné puts in a montage of unused footage from the production, which is actually kind of sweet.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who like fast cars and explosions but aren’t expecting anything more.