VOD film review: Death Proof
Ivan Radford | On 25, May 2013
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell
Watch Death Proof online in the UK: N/A
Severed yet extended, the self-proclaimed fifth film from Quentin Tarantino pulls up onto our screens. Death Proof tells the gratuitously gory tale of some girls who get pranged to pieces by psycho petrol-head Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell). They spend the opening hour lounging around in an Austin bar, gushing in the usual Tarantino fashion. But no matter how much their mouths flap, something doesn’t feel right.
It’s not that they’re enslaved by a misogynistic script, passing the time with lap-dances, drink and more – the exploitative tone of this 70s homage is only half-present and wholly ironic. Rather, the dialogue merely seems redundant. Especially when it comes out of the director’s own mouth – five films down the line, he still can’t act. This aside, however, the eager geekiness of Tarantino’s talk at times feels strangely unnatural and even borders on irritating.
Once Mike’s first victims are bumpered to bits (in glorious Technicolor replay), the film shifts gear to introduce his next prey. Here we see the extra material originally left on the cutting floor for the double-bill that was Grindhouse. Fleshing out the characters by a marginal amount, the direction and performances manage to sustain interest as we meet a more self-consciously created bunch; a gang of actresses including real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell, the star of the show, who wittily plays herself.
They soon track down a white 1970s Dodge Charger (the car from Vanishing Point), which leads to a jaw-dropping car chase that pointedly refuses to use CGI. Dynallmically shot, the bona fide action is undeniably thrilling stuff. The performances, too, are entertaining, and the soundtrack is up to the usual standard. So where’s the weak spot?
Quite simply, Death Proof has no edge. Accompanied by amusing fake trailers and Robert Rodriguez’s superior Planet Terror, the grimy atmosphere of grunge cinema in the Grindhouse double-bill tangible. Viewed alone, however, Death Proof seems dislocated: the inconsistent use of audible scratches and jumpy cuts lose their meaning in a muddled structure. A brilliant concept chopped into two pieces, Grindhouse’s blunted offspring never quite lives up to its heritage.
Exhilarating car chases and a cast clearly enjoying themselves make this is a watchable piece of B-Grade fodder. In spite of the director’s efforts, though, Death Proof is still riddled with unintentional flaws. Quentin’s fifth movie spends all day barking but never bites.
Death Proof is currently unavailable on VOD in the UK.