Death Race: Beyond Anarchy
Directed by Don Michael Paul
Written by Tony Giglio, Don Michael Paul, Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring Zach McGowan, Danny Glover, Danny Trejo
It's been a year of improbable returns for us at Acid Logic. The return of the After Dark Horrorfest under the Fox banner, then Children of the Corn came back, followed by Tremors for a sixth installment. Now, with the closing of 2018, we take a look at one more improbable return in the form of "Death Race: Beyond Anarchy."
"Death Race: Beyond Anarchy" returns us to that same truly godawful United States that we usually have for Death Race installments. The first 30 seconds reveals that unemployment is at an improbably high 21.6 percent. The police are outmatched by the sheer flood of criminals, who are probably just people trying not to starve to death. So needless to say, we need a distraction, not to mention something to do with our huge criminal population. A massive new prison run by a privatized security firm arises--built, ironically enough, out of an old factory town that has since been walled off--and now houses 420,000 inmates. It used to be we could count on Death Race to help keep things quiet, but with Death Race now illegal, it's gone largely underground. Yet the nigh-immortal symbol known as Frankenstein is still alive, and that's a point the government wants to fix. By any means available.
Immediately, there are logic failings all over this thing. If 21.6 percent is the stated unemployment rate, you can figure underemployment to be somewhere up in the 90 percent range, which means EVERYONE should be unemployed because no one's buying a damn thing. I'm not sure where the money's coming from to even pay for a police force to begin with, because with that kind of unemployment, the tax base should be now more appropriate to buying gum than actually paying salaries.
Meanwhile, the government--which should be limping along--has somewhere found cash enough to build a 138-square-mile wall enclosure to hand over to a private prison contractor, and declared illegal the only thing that was actually keeping the rest of the population quiet? And apparently, the prisoners are managing to make money off the Death Race concept thanks to a bizarre and complex array of outside contacts and offtrack betting.
It didn't even take 10 minutes for this thing to fall apart under its own weight, so I didn't exactly hold out a lot of hope for it to be good. However, once you can get past the sheer insanity of the logic, you can actually get into this. The Mad Max aesthetic is alive and well here, as everyone dresses in Early American Whatever The Hell I Could Find, and acts like they're all role-playing Bartertown.
The ending is surprisingly astute, even if it depends on some primary cliches. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you'll likely have at least sensed it coming. Stick around for a minor coda following the first few credits.
Special features include your choice of English, French and Spanish audio tracks and the same choices for subtitles, a set of behind-the-scenes featurettes, character profiles for Lists and Goldberg, a commentary track, and trailers for "Dead Again in Tombstone,"and "Cult of Chucky."
Despite some positively catastrophic failures of logic, "Death Race: Beyond Anarchy" manages to be your perfectly standard slice of post-Apocalyptia. It's sound enough, once you get around the baffling background, and if you've been feeling a bit empty since "Fury Road" left theaters, you'll find a nice replacement here.