Death Race 2
A staple of the typical American male mind set is an infatuation with fast cars, loose women and things that blow up. ‘B’ flick directors have realized the profitable potential of this combination as demonstrated by the impressive number of movies created and released. Car flicks became one of the most popular themes in the seventies and eighties; the golden age of grind house and drive-in movies. many of us grew up in front of badly stained screens in dank testers passing the time on lazy Saturday afternoons watch such flicks while devouring countless tubs of popcorn as we shouted remarks at the screen with our friends. These films really didn’t have to be great; in fact few were even good but the experience provided a diversion enough to generate a fun, enjoyable time. You really have to judged movies of this type differently from the so-called mainstream movies. They are made to provide a quick thrill for the audience and a quick buck for the producers. The chances of any movies like this will win a coveted golden statures are exceedingly slim but that doesn’t preclude the fact that these flicks are a guilty pleasure for millions of men. This fad is so entrenched in the psychological composition of most of us beings with ‘Y’ chromosomes that the popularity of movies presenting excessive use of speed, violence and sex that it has grown outside our borders of the States to Australia and now South Africa. The flick ‘Death Race 2’ is a direct to video prequel presenting some background on the main character of the original, the cop killer known as ‘Frankenstein. In many ways direct to video has replaced the grind house and drive-ins as a primary means to distribute these movies. Like many flicks of this ilk the means of distribution is not indicative of quality; the sigma of DTV is waning. In the case of ‘Death Race 2’ it does not have the greatest possible production qualities but in a very real way this is part of what does work with this film. It was created to provide a bit of salacious fun and admittedly does succeed in that regard.
The previous film was created by one of the current masters of over the top violent flicks, Paul W.S. Anderson. Besides creating the characters in ‘Death Race’ used here he also spawned the still successful ‘Resident Evil’ franchise. Like most subsequent movies this one does sport changes in writer and director. The script was provided by Tony Giglio. He has a few similar screenplays under his belt but a significant amount of his work experience has been in the capacity of a production assistant for movies including ‘Dante's Peak’, ‘Liar Liar’ and an underrated but tautly done psychological thriller ‘Fear’. It is possible to see the influences of some of what he has learned on the sets of these films incorporated here. This movie does have more in the way of coherent story than most representatives of the mindless action genre. With that in mind it should be noted that it takes a certain knack to presenting a neo-grind house flick like this. Roel Reiné takes on the task with appropriate style. Considering his previous works include titles like ‘Black-Ops’, ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘Marine 2’ it should be evident that he is not a stranger to movies where action supersedes story. While there is a modicum of plot line here it is hardly what could be called the most important aspect of the flick. Let’s face it; no one plans to see a film like this scheduling a period of time afterwards to discuss the finer point of cinema or the nuances of character development. This is high octane, testosterone laden action. You pop this disc into your DVD player to see young women in low cut tops, extremely fast cars and a lot of things blowing up.
In the not too distant future, 2012, the overcrowded and heavily over burdened penal system is diversified from the government and privatized. Professional getaway driver Lucas (Luke Goss) is on a job providing egress for a band of bank robbers. During the heist a police officer is killed bringing a murder conviction for Luke who killed the officer while helping his fellow criminals leave the scene. The head of the crime syndicate, Markus Kane (Sean Bean), is naturally not pleased with how the criminal enterprise transpired. After the first of many high speed car chases used in lieu of dialogue Luke is convicted and sentenced to Terminal Island. The prison facility there is under the control of the Weyland Corporation which has made the endeavor highly profitable by forcing the inmates to participate in the extremely popular pay-per-view sporting event, Death Race. If you think this is too farfetched to actual happen just consult a history book and look up gladiator games. Such violent games have been used by many societies as a way to distract an unhappy population from the mismanagement and excesses of government. Luke is introduced to other felons who soon become his pit crew and provide the prerequisite ancillary characters needed to fill out the cast. The buxom young lady of dubious moral turpitude is supplied by Lauren Cohan in the role of Miss September Jones, a former Miss Universe who lost her crown due to allocations that she had sex with all of the pageant’s judges. For a little variety in this area there is also a female convict, Katrina Banks (Tanit Phoenix), throw into the game.
A case could be presented that the story is an indictment of the prevalence of violence in our society or the takeover of the government by private, profit hungry corporations. You might even infer a plot thread about the mistreatment of prisoners or stretch matters to include a case against capital punishment but that really is pushing thing past a credible point. You should not try to think a lot about this movie any more than you would consider applying as force vector analysis to a roller coaster ride. Just have the guys over, send your wife on a shopping spree, order some beer and pizza and enjoy.