Death Race: Beyond Anarchy Review – Demented, Unapologetic Grindhouse Fun for Gearheads
If you’ve not been a fan of the darker, more serious Death Race reboot titles, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy is the gleefully nihilistic, incitive, and maniacal sequel that could win you over. After having its release date delayed for nearly a year, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy finally arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD for bloody October fun.
Admittedly, the Death Race franchise isn’t for everyone, but that’s what makes it so appealing to its fans. The property doesn’t do well when it’s softened to have a wider appeal. Death Race: Beyond Anarchy recognizes what its fans want and delivers a viewing experience that is — apart from a few speed bumps — gory grindhouse fun with awesome car stunts.
Director: Don Michael Paul
Executive Producers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Roger Corman
Studio: Impact Pictures/Chestnut Productions
Publisher: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Run Time: 101 min
Formats: DVD, Blu-ray, VOD
Rating: Unrated, containing strong violence, language, and sexuality
A Violent, Vehicular Legacy: Learn the history of the Death Race franchise
Death Race: Beyond Anarchy review and synopsis
A newcomer to The Sprawl — an enclosed, privatized penitentiary wasteland — has to survive brutal challenges, demented inmates, and oppressed conditions. After making friends with amiable residents in The Sprawl, the mysterious newcomer decides to enter the death race, an outlawed sport deemed immoral by the government, which is trying desperately to shut down. If the newcomer succeeds and takes out the seven-time champion Frankenstein, the stranger will replace the masked man as king of The Sprawl. But is that actually his plan?
In light of the CGI-heavy Death Race 2050 last year, it’s refreshing to see how much of the vehicles, weapons, gore, and overall mise en scène of Death Race: Beyond Anarchy are in-camera. The filmmakers crafted over two dozen customized cars for the film, and over 15 of those are wrecked in aerial flips and fiery explosions, overseen by a talented stunt coordinator and drivers.
And if you like bloody destruction, you’ll be happy to know that most all the gory, juicy moments are kept on-screen — supplemented by grotesque, brutal sound effects.
Much of the run time is spent establishing the major players in the big race in the third act, which creates a rising tension that more than pays off in the final 20 minutes. Some of the performances are stiff when it’s trying to be more serious than it is, but Death Race: Beyond Anarchy is at its best when it’s gleefully demented and unhinged, which it’s obvious how much fun everyone is having making the movie.
Zach McGowan, who we interviewed about his role as Connor Gibson, makes a solid star in Death Race: Beyond Anarchy. It’s hard to follow a mysterious protagonist we know nothing about and says barely a word, but Zach does a commendable job providing a stable, stoic, confident screen presence among a cast of psychotic, over-the-top personalities.
Danny Trejo’s character returns as Goldberg, but his scenes are some of the weakest, despite how charismatic he his. His participation in the movie feels largely unnecessary and inconsequential.
More Death Race Car-nage: Profiles of the cars and drivers of Death Race: Beyond Anarchy
Death Race: Beyond Anarchy’s post-apocalyptic punk style definitely bears resemblance to Mad Max: Fury Road, but it leans more toward death metal concert skinhead fashion, due in part to its soundtrack.
The cinematography is pretty traditional for the most part, but noticeably improves during the races when the cameramen use a lot of interesting, kinetic, varied hot compositions and angles that capture the stunt driving and locations attractively. Being filmed in Bulgaria, the crew utilized some fantastic settings for Death Race: Beyond Anarchy, particularly a closed-down, dilapidated steel mill and velodrome.
Death Race: Beyond Anarchy strikes a juicy balance between the gritty, grounded setting of its reboot series and the perverted gratuitous attitude of the original. Packed with high-octane stunt driving, practical effects, and provocative revelry, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy definitely benefits from being unrated. It’s an enjoyable grindhouse romp for gearheads who like their action movies with a nasty edge.
Death Race: Beyond Anarchy is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.
Photos courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Movie provided for review by distributor.
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.