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jason statham

If Paul W.S. Anderson’s Death Race 2000 remake has anything going for it, it’s the old adage; it knows what it is and doesn’t strive for anything more or anything less. Death Race, the remakes simplified name, is a blistering film drenched in pure octane and lacking much of anything else, but this isn’t award winning cinema here and at no point does the film strive to be, its simply there to entertain for nearly two hours and be done with and almost forgotten about on the ride home.

Death Race, sloshing around in development hell for the better part of the new millennium, even having Tom Cruise attached at one point, is now a budget release for Universal in the doldrums of August when the summer has passed us by, but we aren’t quite ready for award season yet. Jason Statham starts as Jensen Ames a man falsely accused of murdering his wife and thrown into Terminal Island prison. As the beginning of the film explains, the economic turmoil in the United States has lead to private corporations taking over detention duties and reality TV becoming slightly more obscene than Flava of Love.

Drivers are now forced to race for freedom, five wins gets you out, however no one has ever gotten five wins so who knows if the rules of a tyrannically warden (Joan Allen) will hold up when she’s faced with losing her biggest moneymaker. You already know Allen’s Hennessey has set up Ames to get him in her prison and star in her TV show. Coming along for the ride are notables like Tyrese Gibson (whose Transformer‘s check must not have cleared) and Ian McShane (who must be really heartbroken by the cancellation of Deadwood).

From the very onset Death Race grabs you by the groin and pulls you along with arresting shots of cars going fast, rockets exploding, and angry men ramming into each other. Its one testosterone drenched scene after another as Ames tries to find a way to escape and stay alive as Hennessey plots to destroy him after he’s served his purpose.

Statham is his everyday self, gruff, bald, quippy, and incredibly fun to watch in what ever he does. It seems as though writers always try to find a way for him to take his shirt off and work out, or work in a really good fight scene where he will take his short off and work out. Allen does a complete 180 from her turn in the Bourne franchise by hamming up a villain-role that is both unbelievable and utterly unbelievable.

That’s the problem with the movie in general; it sets rules and regulations for its universe and then completely negates them as time goes on including the ease of escape for the prisoners at the end of the film, you’ve probably been in Home Depots more heavily guarded than this maximum security prison.

Still, if you have the right mindset for entering, Death Race can have some amusing moments, usually provided by the interchange between Statham and Allen with McShane thrown in for good measure. Paul W.S. Anderson has never really shown himself to be very capable as a writer/director, usually excelling at the director part and failing miserably at the writing half, and that holds true here with horrible dialog and a story strung together for one explosion after another, but you do get fast cars, hot women, and a damn good, albeit forgettable, time.

I called Ballistic one of the worst movies I have ever seen, I went so far as telling the readers of this website that I would rather have my man-organs sanded off with an electric sander that have to sit through that piece of trash again. I stand by my remarks…

Which have nothing to do with Fox’s The Transporter as it has to be one of the coolest movies of the year, but no where near the best. Why was this movie so cool? Because it isn’t one of those action movies that tries to explain why everything happens, in fact, The Transporter does a good job at not explaining why things happen at all. Even the ending leaves so much on the table that it is hard to walk away from the theater knowing that was it. There are so many holes in the plot, but it isn’t the gang-bang that was FearDotCom, this movie just raises questions, but eases them as it blows your mind with some of the coolest action scenes this side of The Matrix.

The Transporter is a man who does, just what his job says, transport objects (and sometimes people) for money. He is very meticulous about all the details of the job as to make sure everything goes the way it had planned. Things take a turn for the unexpected when he pulls a job for a shady business man who is holding a Chinese warlord’s daughter for him. It is never explained why she was being transported in a bag, or how she even fit into the bag, but like I said before, the writing team (if there was one) and the director (obviously obsessed with people getting kicking in the groin) throw so much action at you that you totally forget about the unanswered questions and problems that just arose from the latest “plot point.”

Anyways, it seems as those this bad Chinese man is freighting over some of his own people in cargo containers to work as slave labor in France (were the extras surrendered to the film crew until they realized the cameras couldn’t hurt them). Frank, the transporter, becomes entangled with his new found love, yep, you guessed it, the evil Chinese man’s daughter, so he aides in tracking down the container that the immigrants are being kept in and alert the authorities, but, of course, the bad man and his business friend don’t want any of this so they send and endless army of bad guys whose only purpose to either get a) kicked in the head, b) groin (see above), c) chest, or d) just get kicked all over the place.

The movies coolest scene is the fight scene near the end that happens in a giant pool of grease. With everyone slipping and sliding on the floor you have nearly ten guys that are covered in this stuff sliding off of each other like…uh…well like ten guys covered in grease, uh, yeah, that’ll work.

Acting for the most part is what you would expect from a mindless action movie. Jason Statham is his usual bad-ass self that we have grown to know and love. If you thought he was cool in Snatch, he is twice as cool in Transporter when he is drop kicking bad guys left and right and tying them up in his sweater (just wait you’ll see).

The movie has all the qualities of a cult classic, and in my mind the movie is one of the most stylistic and coolest movies I have seen this year. The Hong-Kong type fighting mixed with a nice Hollywood budget and a very sweet car chase scene in the beginning give The Transporter some nice status symbols.

Don’t go looking for a feel good movie of the year, or one that will get the brain working more than it has to, this movie is all about chases, fighting, and some of the coolest action scenes in this post-Matrix world. See it.