Tarantino’s weakest work still delivers jaw-dropping car chase stunts.
Dir. Quentin Tarantino
2007| USA | Action/Thriller| 113 mins | 2.35:1 | English
M18 (cut) for graphic violence and gore, strong profanity, and sensuality.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Zoë Bell, Rosario Dawson
Plot: Two separate groups of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his ‘death proof’ cars to execute his murderous plans.
Awards: Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes)
US Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Singapore Distributor: Golden Village Pictures
Subject Matter: Controversial
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow (1st half); Fast (2nd half)
Audience Type: Limited
(Reviewed in theatres – first published 30 Jun 2007)
There are generally two kinds of ‘sicko’ filmmakers – folks that gleefully make ‘torture porn’ flicks, and folks who pay ‘homage’ to B-grade exploitation flicks. Quentin Tarantino clearly belongs to the latter. Both groups have a similar obsession – glorifying graphic violence and gore. When a film like Death Proof comes out, the natural tendency is to go “Not another one of those again!” But a household name like Tarantino can change perceptions; anyway what can go wrong with a Tarantino film?
In Death Proof, Tarantino has decided to scare the hearts out of viewers with just two basic characters – a stuntcar and a psychotic stuntman played by Kurt Russell, who’s a menace throughout his relatively short screen time. What’s worth the admission ticket is the execution of the car stunts; to say that it’s incredible is an understatement. Never have metal grinding and screaming engines sound so sweet to the ears, especially to those with a fetish for cars.
“Well, Pam… Which way you going, left or right?”
The flaw of Death Proof lies in the unnecessarily long-winded (and mundane) dialogue that the women in the film engage in. It doesn’t quite aid in character development, neither does it intentionally serve the film well. It breaks the flow, cuts the tension, and somehow spoils what Tarantino wants to achieve – a horror chiller. Death Proof is part of a double feature under the ‘Grindhouse’ tag, the other being Robert Rodriquez’s Planet Terror. Death Proof is not Tarantino at the height of his power. He occasionally loses his focus, but he redeems himself with outrageously good car chase sequences, and real jaw-dropping stuntwork that’s sorely missing in today’s CG-laden films.