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Friday, 23 November 2007

Death Proof

Is it worth wading through ninety minutes of dreary chit-chat to see the most thrilling car chase ever filmed? That’s the question to ask before checking out Death Proof. Writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s sharp ear for dialogue deserts him in this sluggish tale of a group of young women who sit around and talk for close to forty minutes until stunt-car driver turned serial killer Stuntman Mike (the excellent Kurt Russell) finally and fatally runs them off the road in his specially modified ‘death proof’ car. Then another four girls come along and we start all over again.

Staggering from the wreckage of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s failed Grindhouse feature (where two short trashy films and fake trailers were combined into one box-office flop), Death Proof is a love letter to 70’s exploitation films. Unfortunately, Tarantino gets the details right but forgets to make things interesting – until the final car chase, featuring Mike versus a car with New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell (playing herself) tied to the bonnet. This CGI-free sequence is astounding, nail-biting stuff. It’s Tarantino’s best film-making to date, trapped inside (probably) his worst film.

Anthony Morris
(This review first appeared in edition #291 of The Big Issue Australia, 5 November 2007)

1 comment:

  1. I saw Death Proof at a media screening, and knew nothing about it before seeing it (which is how I like it). I didn't know that Stuntman Mike was indeed a psychopath and I didn't know what was to unfold. Consequently, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, including the long dialogue. It kept me guessing (I thought he might actually be a good guy). Then when the first action sequence happened, it was kinda shocking and he second sequence took me by surprise too. I don't think it was Tarantino's best, but not far off it. I thought he brought (and brings) originality to his highly derivative film-making.