The other two Death Race movies had satisfying plots. This movie had what could have been a satisfying plot, but somehow it fell short. It just wasn’t really particularly clear what was happening or why, so it was hard to care about the characters and events. Moreover, the dialog was amazingly boring. Take away the drama, and it’s just cars and blood and death. Yuck.
The premise is that the moneymaking prison death race management company gets forcibly bought out by a first class jerk, who tells star driver Frankenstein that he in fact cannot win his freedom from prison by winning a fifth race as promised and that instead he is obliged to travel the world to compete and lose to attract fans across the globe.
Thoughts on Death Race: Inferno
Beginning: Frank and his team are taken to South Africa, where, apparently, prisons are patrolled with hyenas (pfft). There’s some garbled stuff about Frank’s identity—his friends thought he had died in a crash and that Frank was someone else. They are angry when they learn the truth, especially the girlfriend. The South African prison then puts on a fairly disgusting death fight among sixteen women to select ten navigators—this puts Frank’s girlfriend at risk of being killed, but she survives. Frank and the girl survive the first race, which (as we are shown) is impossible to escape from because there are missiles tuned to the tracking beacons implanted in the competitors. Frank purposely loses the race so the owner won’t kill him. Meanwhile, the owner is despicably mean to his secretary and the woman in charge of the South African prison.
Middle: Frank reveals some kind of plan to his team, who agree to help him in spite of having been deceived about his identity. At the end of the second race, after Frank lures a local gang into the competition, he loses, and the Mexican guy on his team seemingly gets killed in an explosion. At the end of the third race, the angry South African woman makes a phone call and then traps the owner in the control room, and Frank drives through a tunnel and crashes in.
End: Although it seemed that the Mexican, Frank, Frank’s girlfriend and the owner all died, in fact they all lived. The Mexican made a deal with the female doctor, who had a crush on him, to help them all escape. The owner was badly burned in the attack. The doctor and Lists, the geeky member of Frank’s team who constantly spouts statistics, convinced everyone that the owner was Frankenstein. Thus the owner was, fittingly, forced to become the new star driver of Death Race.
There’s an almost nonsensical subplot with the Chinese gangster 14K saving Frank’s life (when the owner goes crazy and just tries to shoot Frank with a missile), but it’s easy to overlook—blink and you miss it.
In fact, the entire movie deserves to be overlooked.
List of Death Race movies
(in the internal chronological order:)
- Death Race 2 aka Death Race: Frankenstein Lives (2010)
- Death Race 3 aka Death Race: Inferno (2013)
- Death Race (2008)
- Death Race 2000 (1975)