Death Race

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Death Race Movie Poster Image
Violent action remake races to a high body count.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 89 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language

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.

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymitko December 25, 2008
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
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 on... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJMovieZ June 19, 2015

DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS SEE THIS!!!

I am 12 years old and my friend saw this for his birthday I was disgusted so much gore and F-bombs and more swearing I have seen saw nightmare on elm street nei... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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