Death Race

  • Review Date: August 21, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Violent action remake races to a high body count.
  • Review Date: August 21, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 89 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The titular "Death Race" is a media event conducted from prison by a private corporation; the film's near-future setting involves an economic recession that's put millions out of work. A lead character is unjustly sentenced for the death of his wife, though he has a prior criminal record. authority figures are depicted as corrupt thugs. A disclaimer after the film states that viewers should not "duplicate any action, driving, or car play" they've just seen.


Constant graphic action, including shooting, fistfights, stabbings, people being beaten with truncheons, explosions, car crashes, Tasering, pepper spraying, head-butts, a character slashing himself with a razor blade, a character being strangled with a length of chain, and more. Several grisly demises are witnessed on screen, including a bare-handed neck-breaking, a character being struck by a car, a character being hurled from a moving car, a character being burned alive, a character's vehicle being struck by a tank shell, a speeding car being impaled on spikes, a female character being mangled by wheel-spikes cutting through the side of a car and her body, and much more.


Passionate kissing in a committed relationship; ogling of women who are wearing tight/low-cut outfits. Some discussion of a character's homosexuality.


Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "c--k," "c--ksucker," "homo," "faggot," "bitch," "bulls--t," "t---y," "damn," and more. The "N" word is used repeatedly in a song on the soundtrack.


Extensive mention and on-screen presence of car-related brands, including Ford Mustang, Dodge Ram, BMW, Porsche, Mopar, NASCAR, NOS nitrous oxide systems, NASCAR, and more; Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is seen on screen, with the label in close-up.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A character drinks a beer; characters smoke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is a non-stop series of graphic, violent action scenes, with lots of blood and some gore. Although it's based on '70s exploitation film Death Race 2000, this movie forgoes the original film's over-the-top satire in favor of even more-over-the-top action. The film's authority figures -- a prison warden and her guards -- are uniformly depicted as corrupt, brutish, money-hungry thugs. The main character is in prison for killing his wife, which he didn't do; at the same time, he racks up a substantial body count throughout the film in his quest for vengeance. Also expect plenty of strong language, plenty of car-related product placement, and some drinking and smoking.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In a near future in which economic collapse has left millions out of work and put all prisons in the hands of private corporations, Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) may have just lost his job, but he's still a loving husband and dedicated father. But then a mysterious assailant kills his wife, and frames Jensen for the murder. He's incarcerated at Terminal Island prison, where Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen) has created a media empire webcasting a kill-or-be-killed race in which convicts drive cars loaded with weaponry. Hennessey's ratings have been slipping since her best driver, a masked figure known only as "Frankenstein," was killed; she wants Jensen to step into the mask and take his place behind the wheel. Jensen's reluctant, but Hennessey's offer to free him if he wins convinces him to suit up and hit the gas.

Is it any good?


DEATH RACE isn't high art, but it's an impressive piece of exploitation moviemaking. Any troubling questions of logic or sense will be drowned out by the roar of the engines and the guns, and Statham's low-key action-hero presence makes it easy to watch him. There's some nice slumming going on within the supporting cast, too, with Oscar-nominated actress Allen (The Contender, The Bourne Ultimatum) playing the diabolical warden and Ian McShane (Deadwood) playing Coach, the head of Jensen's pit crew.

Director Paul W.S. Anderson has made plenty of mid-level, low-budget, high-concept action films, but he seems unusually inspired by Death Race; the race sequences are well shot, and the film's giddy, guilty-pleasure action scenes are big, bold, and brutal. There are a few hints of social commentary in Anderson's script -- Hennessy notes that her event has "more viewers than the Super Bowl" -- but Death Race doesn't linger on satire, choosing instead to get to the burning rubber and blazing guns. Death Race isn't for young kids, but older teens will be able to enjoy it for what it is -- an over-the-top piece of well-made trash that delivers precisely what you'd expect from a movie called Death Race.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of the Death Race itself -- what point does violent entertainment stop being entertaining? Is the idea of a live, pay-per-view to-the-death gladiatorial event ludicrous or unnervingly ahead of its time? Families can also discuss the cultural history of gladiatorial games, from the Roman Empire's death matches to more "civilized" events like mixed martial arts today. What's so compelling about watching people fight?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 21, 2008
DVD release date:December 22, 2008
Cast:Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson
Director:Paul W.S. Anderson
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence and language.

This review of Death Race was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bysamcantin December 28, 2008

Not for young kids

The movie itself is pretty violent. It is pretty gory and violent, and the profanity level is also pretty high. I'd say that depending on your child's maturity level, Death Race is a good movie for kids about 13 years and over. The sex level is really low, only goes to a view of Jason's Statham's butt in one scene and some women revealing clevage. There is also a warning at the end of the movie saying that all the stunts were performed by professionals and stuff, but then again, it depends on whether your child is mature enough to understand the warning. Still, I found it was a very good movie.
Adult Written by4Spice June 14, 2010

good movie

cool movie lots of violence and language 15 and over no kids
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byTortellini November 4, 2009

Watch something smart instead.

WAY to violent for my tastes. The entire movie was pretty much people dieing in really gory ways. I'm sure tons of kids would love this but I'm not one of them. I also know that most parents would definitely not want their kids watching that kind of violence. Bad language is constantly heard throughout the move.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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