For what it's worth, watching Death Race is not likely to become a Christmas tradition for me. I didn't hate, mind you, but I'm not sure I exactly liked it either.
Poor Jason Statham by Paul Constant is largely on the money, my disagreements, such as they are, would only be in degrees, but I particularly feel the need to reiterate this point, "Why does (Death Race director) Paul W.S. Anderson suck so much? His movies have zombies and explosions and all kinds of things that an action movie fan should appreciate. But they always feel so empty, so vacant. All his films feel like an action movie with all the life sucked out of it. Maybe it's because he's the photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopied action movie director. Technically, his stuff is fine. You can follow most of the fights, the car chases are competent, you know which character is talking when there's dialogue. This is actually pretty impressive for a modern-day action movie director."
More than pretty impressive, this is in fact, an unbelievable, nearly unheard of level of competence for a modern-day action movie director, at least a modern-day American action movie director.
But, yes, ultimately he is the movie directing equivalent of Whitney Houston. There's no denying that he has an impressive ability to hit all the notes all along the range, but there's no soul to it.
Paul Bartel's Death Race 2000 is - not only an almost entirely different story - full of soul. Sure, it's ragged around the edges and wonky in places, but it sings! I could watch it over and over, and have.
I found this movie entertaining enough. I thought the performances were solid. The action sequences were well put together. But it never sings. It never risks failure by actually jumping forward and claiming the stage and being itself.
couchdog53 called it "an over the top extreme action flick". Frankly, I wish I'd seen that... and I did watch the Unrated version. I didn't find this to be at all "over the top" or "extreme". Reading that makes me sad how watered down our tastes have become that reasonable people feel movies this bland should be described with those adjectives.