|One half of Grindhouse: a double-bill in which nubile women are stalked by Stuntman Mike and his 'death-proof' car. Death-proof for him, that is...||score
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Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Poitier
Rating / Running Time
MA / 114 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006-2007
ABN 72 775 390 361
Tarantino presented his half of splat-fest double-feature Grindhouse to a packed house at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Death Proof ran Out-of-Competition as audiences whooped and hollered from the first frame to a rousing, blood-soaked finale. After all, the villainous, misogynistic Kurt Russell had just been slain, many, many times - such was his indiscretion, one death simply wouldn’t be enough. A film in two halves, Death Proof is resolutely uncomplicated. Russell scours Californian highways to rough up scantily clad women of questionable virtue. Story one features Jordan Ladd, Sydney Poitier and a soon-to-be-skewered Rose McGowan whom he meets in bikie bar. Story Two features Rosario Dawson and posse who fight back. It’s like that episode when Daisy Hazzard takes Kitt for a ride and kicks Michael Myers arse again and again. Somewhat preposterous but hey, grrrl power rulez – ok!
Missing is the complex, layered Tarantino of old. Certainly his earlier wok was no less violent or stained than the pummeling Death Proof, but they had a greater subtlety and sense of purpose than mere homage. Even at his most insane, Jules remained interesting, something these gals are not, resolutely. Revisiting the grind house genre of 70’s highway brutality and exploitation only reveals what a good film student Tarantino is. As with Kill Bill 1, he reworks the original tone to great effect, though watching a new film from a bygone era is hardly reason enough to buy a ticket. All cats eventually tire of playing with mice. Had Tarantino put his runaway hormones to work, Death Proof could have been bigger than fast car carnage. Instead it’s an unwieldy, and ultimately boring, slog. The only consolation is that you don’t have to sit through the second feature as well.
// COLIN FRASER