In the near future, the American economy has collapsed, which leads to a huge increase in poverty and crime. In order to imprison criminals and create new jobs, prisons are all privatized. Hennessey, the ruthless warden at Terminal Island, has come up with an even better way to increase profits: the Death Race. In the Death Race, cars are tricked out with all sorts of weaponry, from basic diversions like smoke and oil to harder weaponry like automatic weapons and napalm. The racers are prisoners who must drive around a track filled with traps and try to beat (and kill) the other prisoners. If any racer manages to win five consecutive Death Races, he or she will be granted a full pardon. Jensen Ames is a struggling industrial worker who works outside in the hard post-collapse world, but when he is attacked in his home, he wakes up, finding his wife dead and him covered in her blood, framed for her murder. He goes to Terminal Island, where Hennessey gives him an opportunity for swift freedom: Frankenstein is dead, but she wants him to continue racing because he's the most popular racer they have. Her proposal to Ames is simple: put on the mask, win Frankenstein's "fifth race," and secure his freedom. He meets his crew, who helps prepare him for the deadly event. When he sees a fellow racer make the same gesture he saw the man who killed his wife make, the races become personal. Even worse, he finds out that one of his crew has been given her release papers by Hennessey in exchange for continually sabotaging Frankenstein's car, in hopes that he must stay and continue to make her money. Ames must use the help of his crew and some fellow allied racers to escape the facility and expose Hennessey's corrupt prison policies once and for all.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is an awesome post-apocalyptic action movie. It's as if they combined The Great Escape with the vehicles from Road Warrior, creating a viciously violent and cool genre flick.
Best scene in story:
In his first race, he is overwhelmed by many of the traps and weapons around him. It's as high-tension as the action gets in a movie filled to the brim with action.
Opinion about the main character:
Ames is the classic "wrong place, wrong time" hero, which is always a sympathetic archetype, and Jason Statham always oozes cool.