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Death Race (Blu-ray)

Starring: Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson and, oh my goodness, is that Ian McShane!? (Remember Lovejoy?)

Rated: 18. (Apparently it's only a 15 on DVD, although I have to assume it's still a bloody tale of revenge, featuring convicts murdering each other using killer cars. Perhaps there's less gore or they bleep out all the swearing. Who knows?)

Story: In the near future, a former racing driver gets framed for murder and just happens to end up in a privately run prison which supplements its income by broadcasting gladiatorial races between the inmates on pay-per-view. Winning five races means freedom.

To add some spice, the cars have guns and the co-drivers are busty prisoners from the women's penitentiary down the road...

Comments: Right, before I go any further, I should probably point out that Death Race really is as daft as it sounds and is dumber than a toddler with a nappy full of hammers. People blow each other up while driving very fast. That's about it. This movie makes The Condemned look like a thoughtful reflection on the morality of violence as entertainment.

Death Race is gory, predictable and totally unbelievable. That said, if you're looking to watch some mindless explosions while collapsed on the sofa with a beer, it's slick and has impressive effects. The racing has obviously been influenced by a number of computer games, so this is maybe one to try after a hard day with the kids when you fancy a shot of Burnout but holding a controller feels a little too much like effort.

The cast do fine with what they're given but Jason Statham needs to consider his projects more carefully. Could he really not find better vehicles for his talents than this and In the Name of the King? Also, I spent the whole time expecting McShane to offer him some dodgy paintings (which was somewhat off-putting).

Conclusion: It's people driving at high speed while shooting at each other - nothing more nor less.

Explosions: Lots.
Cars with guns: Several.
Startling plot twists: None.
Gritty concrete locations: Constant.
Dodgy East Anglian antique dealers: One.

Rating: 3/5.


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