I went and saw this film cold, because I heard it had a clever twist. A twist! I love those things. Plus, the trailer gave no idea what the movie was actually about; it looked a bit of a mystery, with Will Smith’s character being accused of playing ‘god’. I was expecting a sort of clever mystery play. Well it’s a morality piece; it starts off well but then descends into schmaltz and the ending is exceedingly syrupy rather than thoughtful.
Imagine the classic story about a gritty martial arts tournament, where the young hero gets beaten up a fair bit before learning an Important Revelation about himself and his abilities, before coming back to challenge his adversary in a final bout. Now, imagine that concept as a series of interviews between David Frost and Richard Nixon, dragging back and forth with an intriguing intensity.
This one wasn’t too bad, actually. It’s essentially teenage girl wish fulfilment, with vampires, as opposed to talking horses, which is what I wanted when I was a teenager (no, wait, I’m recalling a fan-fiction I thankfully never finished where I was the only female bronze dragon rider on all of Pern and ahh… Let’s not mention this ever again…) There are lots of odd angles and close-ups in the movie; the director doesn’t seem to like show people with full foreheads for some reason.
I’ve always secretly liked Paul WS Anderson as a director, ever since I saw Mortal Kombat (there can only be one). I even liked Soldier, with Kurt Russell playing a near-autistic killing machine trying to function in a normal human society. Resident Evil was a good film. Let’s not mention Aliens vs Predator here, though. Anyway, Death Race is a decent B-grade SF film, enjoyable but let down by the stupidity of the villain/the race logistics and the stupidity of the ending.
I usually like B-grade SF movies, but this wasn’t done very well. Everyone was overacting, perhaps to try and capture a noir sense of style. It wasn’t done consistently, so it created an odd, jarring tone. Also, everyone was reacting to Max Payne’s aura of bad-assery, as though it was visible shockfront of sheer grim, avenging, lone wolf cop personality.