Death Race is a facelift, and a spiritual remake of the film Death Race 2000. Both films take place in a dystopian future where society is coming apart at the seams and life is cheap. In Death Race the answer to the entertainment needs of the populace, as well as the question of what to do with the burgeoning prison population, is automotive carnage.
The setup of the event in question is simple. Prisoners run a 3 day race in cars decked out with military surplus along a course covered in traps. The first one alive over the finish line wins the race, and the man who wins 5 races is set free, no questions asked. We come to Jensen Ames, played by Jason Statham. Framed for killing his wife he finds himself presented with the opportunity to drive The Monster, the car of the masked driver Frankenstein. Frankenstein secretly died, and he's won 4 races. If Ames wins the 5th race, he goes free, and he can reclaim his daughter and find the men that killed his wife.
What Ames discovers, in between rounds on the lethal race, is that it's no accident he was sent to Terminal Island. The man that really killed his wife is in that prison, and the bizarre series of events shows the long reach the warden has for making certain that she has the best drivers in her little blood bath that she can get. The question is what is Ames, alias Frankenstein, going to do with an armored car covered in guns and his life on the line with every lap? The answer is drive, and make sure that he gets his revenge.
Death Race, and it's prequel Death Race 2, create a unique and horrifying world that's similar to the ones made by Richard Bachman in films like The Running Man. Worlds where the rich and powerful crush the lives of little people, turning their life or death struggles into modern day Roman holidays, making them gladiators on reality TV. It offers a sobering look at how bad things can get when private industries run rampant, human rights are ignored and it takes a man in a hodgepodge death machine to make a run for the sun in order for something truly heroic to actually happen. A fine action movie with plenty of blood, bullets and beautiful women for any viewer.