Sunday, 16 January 2011



Since the basic practice these days appears to be either remaking, sequelling, rebooting or spinoffing, or any or all of the above, absolutely everything that moves whether or not it's actually worth remaking, sequelling etc., on one level it's hardly surprising that the Death Race remake has been visited by the Let's Do That Again fairy. On another level entirely: Death Race of all things? Crunchy metal-on-metal dumbo mayhem it may have been, but it certainly didn't warrant another trip to the well, did it? Presumably the numbers stacked up, presumably there was obviously a market for it and all they had to do was go out and make it. And, happily, what we've ended up with is fine. Not up there with Paul WS Anderson's film, but a decent enough rental.

Since they haven't got Jason Statham but they have got a few other people from the earlier film, what they've done with Death Race 2 is to make a prequel, giving us the origins of Death Race as the natural descendant of Death Match when the public got bored of simple fights between convicted criminals - conceived by Ving Rhames' global corporation. Luke Goss - yes, him out of Bros and very much the poor man's Jason Statham, if not the penniless bankrupt's Jason Statham - goes to jail for his part in a bank robbery but mob boss Sean Bean wants him dead before he does a deal for his freedom.

Made for the home market rather than a theatrical release, Death Race 2 was shot in South Africa and therefore is probably the second best sports movie of recent years from that country (after the wonderful Invictus, obviously). Look, it's astoundingly stupid and noisy and violent and gruntingly boneheaded, but as with the first one it did achieve what it set out to. This one isn't as successful in that regard - the film's half over before the Death Race actually begins - but it's always good to see people like Danny Trejo (in the Ian McShane role as chief mechanic) and Ving Rhames. It's incredibly dumb and holds few surprises and for what it is, it's perfectly acceptable. Still, after this and The Tournament I think I need something a little more cerebral.


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