Death Race3: Inferno is your typical direct-to-video movie meaning a script with thin character development, poor acting even by the pros (at least Dougray Scott seemed to have fun with his cackling) and generic action which leaves this more or less forgettable.
Universal | R/Unrated – 101/105 min. – $29.98 | January 22, 2013
Directed by: Roel Reine
Writer(s): Paul W.S. Anderson and Tony Giglio (story), Tony Giglio (screenplay)
Cast: Luke Goss, Danny Trejo, Tanit Phoenix, Fred Koehler, Ving Rhames, Dougray Scott
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
The rules are simple, drive or die. And on that point, I commend a movie for not overcomplicating things with depth or sanity, something the Death Race franchise revels in.
Picking up after the events of its predecessor, Death Race 3: Inferno finds a charred Carl Lucas (LUKE GOSS), having taken up the mantle of Frankenstein, the popular driver in the Death Races and with one more win, Lucas and his team of mismatches – including Goldberg (DANNY TREJO), Lists (FRED KOEHLER) and hottie/navigator/cleavage-extraordinaire Katrina (TANIT PHOENIX) – will be set free. However, there is shakeup as Weyland Corporate CEO (VING RHAMES) sells out to a vulture in Niles York (DOUGRAY SCOTT) who plans on franchising Death Race. However, his problem is the biggest reason for the Races popularity is with Frankenstein and if he wins one more, goodbye any profits. Given he can’t change the rules in the middle of the game; he instead threatens to kill his team if he doesn’t take the fall in the upcoming races held in South Africa.
Meanwhile, there’s some sour blood with the team as they once though Lucas was killed in the explosion at the end of Death Race 2 and he had instead kept it a secret before revealing that he was reinvented as Frankenstein (in order to protect them). However, they band together and compete against 9 other vehicles. But each driver, and their navigator, is imbedded with a GPS chip that, if they stray from the course, will get a honing missile directed right at them. It doesn’t take long for a demonstration as one driver decides to make a head start… but he doesn’t get far and goes down in a fiery ball of flames. With that in mind, the first of the three stages of the race commence with each driver trying to outrun, and take out, one another and, at certain intervals, get their variety of weapons activated. All the while, Niles and the program producer Satana, keep an eye as the ratings continue to rise.
The rest of the plot is merely more intimidation from Niles with Lucas fighting back, some ass-kicking, explosions and, of course, inane dialogue. Although I do appreciate that the film doesn’t overcomplicate things, it still doesn’t mean Death Race 3 is a good movie just because the filmmakers know they’re not making anything substantial.
One thing I immediately noticed was the utterly terrible acting from (mostly) the core cast, even from the veterans who chew up the scenery. Luke Goss makes for a suitable hero and although he’s hardly as bad-ass compared to Jason Statham, I suppose he’s good enough given the material; Tanit Phoenix is mighty fine as the eye-candy and she shows off plenty of cleavage to satisfy the masses (and the cameras do not shy away from it), as do the other ladies in the film; the reliable Danny Trejo somehow manages to stay above poor material and is easily the best aspect of the production; and finally Dougray Scott cackles like no one else, doing so in nearly every scene he’s in.
The movie was directed by Roel Reine while the story was from Paul W.S. Anderson best/worst known for the Resident Evil series. Reine for his part I’ll give some props for taking a relatively low budget (according to his commentary, this one was only $6.2M) and a limited script, and making a semi-coherent flick out of it. However, the action isn’t anything spectacular and the vehicles (probably the real stars of these Death Race movies) aren’t memorable. Death Race 3: Inferno as a whole might satisfy the cravings for explosions yet it is little else but time-filler fodder.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
Feature Commentary – This track by Director Roel Reine is informative and as far solo tracks go, he manages to keep things lively from beginning to end with a minimal amount of blank space. He expands on the story and how certain scenes were filmed.
Deleted Scenes (11:50) includes 9 scenes that didn’t make either cut, more than likely for pacing issues. Some of the footage is used in the alternate opening. Nothing here is anything of note and would’ve only served to hurt the pacing.
Deleted Shots Montage (4:59) – If the scenes and alt. opening weren’t enough, we get a variety of shots (and pieces of cheesy dialogue) as well.
The Making of Death Race 3: Inferno (10:39) – This featurette offers a behind-the-scenes look with cast/crew interviews showing how the flick was made. As with most ‘making-of’ featurettes, there’s nothing new or interesting here outside of seeing some of the stunt work was shot.
Art Imitating Life: Goldberg (5:21; HD) – This is a profile on Danny Trejo his character. It’s interesting to hear his life story and how he got into the business.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Death Race 3 arrives on DVD presented with a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and for the most part, looks good in SD. There is your usual amount of artifacting and/or pixilation but it’s not distracting. The color array looks oversaturated but I’m certain that was the director’s intention.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track offered is more than serviceable showcasing the numerous action sequences while also having fine levels for the quieter moments. The surround channels get some use especially with the various rock songs plus some ambient, off-screen, noises.
OVERALL – 2.5/5
Overall, Death Race3: Inferno is your typical direct-to-video movie meaning a script with thin character development, poor acting even by the pros (at least Dougray Scott seemed to have fun with his cackling) and generic action which leaves this more or less forgettable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman