Death Proof (2007)

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It may be Death Proof, but it isn't critic proof

Originally released into theaters on a double bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror under the Grindhouse banner, Death Proof finds a group of ladies out on the town pitted against a mysterious figure named Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), whose vintage automobile has been partially modified to withstand even the most extreme auto collision. Though the maniacal driver himself always comes out relatively unscathed, the same certainly can't be said for the poor young lass in his passenger seat -- or anyone unfortunate enough to be on the road when the urge to kill strikes for that matter.

The film begins by focusing on three girls, Radio DJ Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier), Shanna (Jordan Ladd) and Arlene (Vanessa Ferlitio), and this trio has got to be the most unlikeable characters Tarantino has come up with. The girls dialogue is filled with things that are almost completely meaningless, they just have nothing to do with the plot or with fleshing out these characters and just feel like a waste of time. And the worst thing is that we know Kurt Russell's character is going to eventually kill them, but we are stuck with the girls for the first 40 boring minutes of the film in so many dragged out scenes that end up testing your patience. And no lap dance makes up for this.

Kurt Russell manages to play Stuntman Mike, the best character in the entire film. He begins as a guy who takes Arlene up on her offer for a lap dance, and does it with such charm and in such an attractive way that you'd want to give him a lap dance, and later on manages to successfuly turn that charm into such an aggression against his intended victims. And yet, later on in the film, he manages to turn that performance of aggression and charm into quite the fearful performance, and never doing it in a way that's unbelievable or over the top, but in a way that you get much more of a sense for his character, making him much more believable rather than just some forever-raging serial killer. Quentin Tarantino's obligatory cameo really livened up the opening as Warren, the kind of bar owner who makes you want to go out of your way to regularly visit his bar, just because of him. Definatley a better role than his Planet Terror soldier.

Zoe clinging for dear life after a stunt gone wrong

After Stuntman Mike takes care of the annoying first batch of girls, we are given another group of girls, made up of Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Tracie Thoms. With these girls, we are given pretty much the same thing that we got with the first batch of girls, which is long scenes of these girls talking, which drags on with the pointless, uninteresting dialogue, it's just unneeded repetition. But I felt that once the girls took out the Dodge Challenger for a test drive, they became so much better characters for the rest of the film. Maybe that was because from here on out, the dialogue took a back seat to the girls actually driving the car.

The best thing about this film is, without a single doubt, the car scenes. This is where the film shines, with all this amazing action, exhilariting with every second that passes. It was great to hear that Tarantino didn't use any CGI or any other effects trickery to pull the chases off, it makes them so much more impressive to watch. The highlight was definatley the end chase, which managed to turn the situation upon it's head and keep a consistently great chase going on until the end.

Death Proof is a disappointing entry from Quentin Tarantino, focusing too much on dialogue heavy scenes filled with unlikeable characters that do little except make you yawn, but any scene involving Kurt Russell, Quentin Tarantino or a car chase manage to make this film better. If the film focused more on the cars and less on the dialogue, then this film could've been so much better.


HarleyQuinn said…
I don't intend to see this, but great review!