Death Race (2008)

Rated: R for strong violence and language.
Length: 89 minutes
Grade: BFCB=B
Budget: $65 million
Box Office: $74 million (36 U.S., 38 Intl.)

Written and Directed by: Paul WS Anderson (AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil, Event Horizon, and Mortal Kombat)
Starring: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, and Natalie Martinez.

In a post-economic collapsed America, former racing star, Jensen Ames, is sentenced to life in a maximum security prison island after he is framed for the murder of his wife. Once there, he is given the opportunity to participate in the world famous death race as the fabled superstar Frankenstein. If he wins just one race against other convicts in armored race cars equipped with guns, he will be set free.

Entertainment Value: B
I always liked the original movie (Death Race 2000) for its sheer silly mayhem, and I wondered from the ads how they would take the concept of a cross-country killing spree and remake it effectively, especially since the original starred both David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone. But they did.
Superficial Content: F Drugs/Alcohol A-, Sex/Nudity C, Violence F, Language F, Illegality F
A man is shown nude from behind being hosed off in jail. Some women dress and act seductively. Language and violence are pretty much as F as they can possibly be. And the entire movie is about killing people with the use of guns and cars.

Significant Content: C
Police are at least as corrupt as inmates. America has an unhealthy fascination with violence. Justice will be done somehow or other. Those who stand to profit from entertainment become willing to do anything to make ratings.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
This is high-quality action film-making. It has all the elements, ridiculous mayhem, character struggle, a pouty but tough hero, and possibly some questions about the basic nature of entertainment.

Discussion Questions:
~This movie seems to be a commentary on the barbarity of modern society, but can a movie which is so flagrantly violent and designed to stimulate the action-enjoyment response be a credible source of this message? Does anyone come away from this movie thinking that such a spectacle would be totally awful?
~Does watching a movie like this corrupt your sense that life is sacred? Can a Christian cherish life and still enjoy a movie like this?
~How is the Death Race like the Roman Coliseum and the gladiators? What is this movie saying about modern entertainment? About American society? About Fox Television?
~Given that the movie is such a hard R for language and violence, why do you think they chose to not inject very much sexuality into it?
~Why is it that the characters in this movie seem surprised when the warden does unfair things to them or to the race? If a person is willing to profit from the sports murder of other people, why would anyone expect that person to be decent in other areas?
Overall Grade: B
Far more entertaining that I expected, in fact far more interesting and complex than I expected. Had it not been, I would have felt much more ashamed of enjoying a movie depicting the role playing game Car Wars I grew up playing with my friends.

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