Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: Offensive language, violence and content that may offend
Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike
Rosario Dawson as Abernathy
Vanessa Ferlito as Arlene
Jordan Ladd as Shanna
Rose McGowan as Pam
Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Jungle Julia
Tracie Thoms as Kim
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Lee
Zoë Bell as Herself
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his murderous plans.
Death Proof is the second part of the Grindhouse movie pack which is paired with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror. Quentin Tarantino usually has something to impress me with, usually with the dialogue and the performances he can make the actors give. Unfortunately, with this movie he’s unsuccessful doing this. His tribute to the grindhouse (or exploitation) movies should entertain but it doesn’t do that. Instead we are left with a 113 Minute movie that only a few times had my interest.
Tarantino’s movies are dialogue driven movies however people who know about exploitation movies know that the dialogue isn’t well written. Making exploitation movies dialogue driven is like making a chick flick have horror elements; still, Tarantino makes the movie dialogue driven and it doesn’t work. The dialogue here is more cringe worthy than some real exploitation movie dialogue because unlike the exploitation movies which don’t focus on it, this movie really focuses on it a lot. Nearly all of the dialogue has nothing to do with anything; Tarantino manages to make his other movies have people talking about irrelevant things while keeping the movie entertaining (like the tipping scene from Reservoir Dogs) but here it is just boring and makes this one of the most frustrating movie experiences to sit through. Despite the plot being about these women being stalked by Kurt Russell’s character, there is no presence of him being a threat; I wouldn’t even call this movie a thriller.
Easily the best performance of this movie is by Kurt Russell, he really relishes in the role that he has, apart from near the end where he seems to jump character. He is not in the movie a lot though; he pops up somewhere in the middle and twice near the end. Also, despite being advertised as the main star of this movie, he’s not really that; the women are; which consist of Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Zoë Bell as herself. Although they do the best they can with what they have, the script doesn’t really give them a chance to give the characters any personality. I know that exploitation movies don’t usually have characters that have much personality but if someone is going to write a dialogue driven movie, the characters should have at least some personality. It results in the audience not really caring for any of the characters.
The movie for the first half of the movie uses the grainy grindhouse filter well; in that aspect it felt like a grindhouse movie. However halfway through the movie the film changes to a black and white look for no reason at all and halfway through that scene it changes to colour without the grainy look. The car scenes are well done and aren’t CGI, however (I’m not spoiling anything here) there are only two car chase scenes. The soundtrack is well chosen by Tarantino, as he usually does.
Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof is not a movie that I would recommend that people see but I wouldn’t say to avoid it. I’ve heard of people who absolutely love this movie, for whatever reason. What I will say is that if you are planning to watch this movie, be careful of what you expect. Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror seems to capture more successfully the style and enjoyment of a grindhouse movie much more than this movie. Death Proof isn’t a terrible movie but it isn’t really one that I’d say is good.