October 2008 Movies

October 1st, 2008 Film, Film Reviews, Penthouse

Death Race

Hard man Jason Statham’s quickly taking up the action hero mantle now Arnie’s gone off to politics and Sly and Bruce are shuffling into pension age.

His films have run the gamut from ultra-cool (Snatch, The Bank Job) to leaden dross (Rogue Assassin, In the Name of the King), and there’s a big dark shadow hanging over this remake of the 1975 cult hit; director Paul W S Anderson, best known for forgettable video game adaptations like the Resident Evil series, Mortal Kombat and D.O.A.

Produced (bizarrely) by Tom Cruise, Statham plays an incarcerated con forced into the titular contest, where a collection of brutal thugs drive souped up death machines across a post-nuclear holocaust landscape, attempting to whack bystanders and each other for extra points along the way.

It could go either way — a great-time thrill ride full of blistering action set pieces with a healthy dose of adult-targeted violence, or a moppet-friendly toothless tiger, stripped of all nihilism and brutality and with no reason for being except to have the toy line on shelves before Christmas.

Max Payne

Another day, another video game adaptation, and another one that could go either way (although they all seem to go only one way — downhill).

Unlike many video games, Max Payne was one of the earliest titles to be widely regarded for it’s immersive, multi-faceted plot. Whether director John Moore can translate that to the screen is a different matter — he’s the remake hack responsible for the pointless Omen and pitiable Flight of the Phoenix reduxes.

Max (Mark Wahlberg) is a DEA agent with A Past who teams up with a comely female assassin (Family Guy and Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Mila Kunis) to solve a spate of murders in the Big Apple. Cool visuals like the slow-mo bullet time and a strong story gives the filmmakers a lot of pickings to make the movie something special, but it’s still a perilous pursuit. The great visuals of the source material didn’t help the ill-conceived Doom adaptation and a decent plot didn’t help the charisma-free zone that was Hitman.

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