DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO
Death Race was okay for what it did; although one didnt think it a particularly great film. Death Race 2 felt unnecessary it seemed to only be copying what had gone before but was at least propelled by some good action scenes from Roel Reiné and Luke Goss did a worthwhile job of stepping into the lead role. By the time of Death Race 3: Inferno, it feels that we have a series that is buckling under the strain of having to make the concept extend to three films. All three films are trapped in a limited plot tight-lipped hero must triumph in a vehicular race being held inside a prison by a corrupt governor where the rules of the game are constantly being stacked against him. Death Race 3 has precisely zero to add to this. All it can think to add to the mix is to hold the Death Race out of doors in the desert in various South African locations (where the second film was also shot).
I looked to this new location as holding some potential; unfortunately, it rapidly becomes apparent that the conception fails in execution as all we end up with is watching a variety of trucks racing around sand dunes and shantytowns and occasionally blowing one another up. This is something that proves incredibly monotonous and repetitive. The dynamic possibilities as an action director that Roel Reiné. demonstrated in the opening sequence of Death Race 2 or in The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012) from earlier in the year are nowhere in evidence. I suppose that Death Race 3: Inferno ended up being exactly what I expected of it but did it have to be so dull?
The other problem I had with Death Race 3: Inferno was its skewed moral rewriting. All three films work on very simplistic black-and-whites. They play into the cliches that almost all prison films do a decent loner who is either innocently convicted or has conducted some wrongdoing they must earn forgiveness for while being placed up against a corrupt system run by an evil warden, which the hero (and those on his side) gets to symbolically bring down. I dont have a problem with these particular black-and-whites. It is more that the Death Race films have to skew the characters to make their point. We are supposed to forget by the point of this film that all of the good guys are hardened criminal in a maximum security penitentiary it is almost impossible to believe the character of Lists who is played as the wet-eared innocent kid as being any type of hardened criminal, for instance. Each film needs to keep coming up with a new evil warden for the heroes to fight against. Death Race 3 offers up Dougray Scott who barnstorms his way through some great evil in the opening scenes (although this eventually only becomes a very one-dimensional role). However, for him to be so blackly villainous, Ving Rhamess Weyland who was on the side of the villains in the last film has to be rewritten as one of the good guys. In the absurdly improbable twist ending, we even get Rhamess Weyland, along with Luke Goss and his friends, engaged in an elaborate scheme to frame Dougray Scott which transpires as something akin to the fantastically improbable capers of an Oceans Eleven (2001) film. There is at least a sardonically black end comeuppance twist that allows the film to go out on a nasty sting.
Roel Reiné began making films with an action bent in the Netherlands and entered genre material with his third effort Drifter (2008), going onto the other genre likes of Deadwater (2008), The Lost Tribe (2010), The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012), Dead in Tombstone (2013), The Condemned 2 (2015), The Man with the Iron Fists 2 (2015) and Hard Target 2 (2016). He has also produced the low-budget horror films Blackwater Valley Exorcism (2006), Brutal (2007), Bear (2010) and Wolf Town (2010).