out of Five
Running time: 114
Tarantino has a blast with this affectionate nod to '70s exploitation flicks, but the dialogue isn't as good as it should have been.
What's it all about?
Originally intended as the first half of an exploitation double bill with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror (released later this year), Tarantino's Death Proof stars Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike, a smooth-talking serial killer who uses his souped-up Dodge Charger as a deadly weapon. When DJ Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) and her three friends get chatting to Mike in a sleazy Texas bar, their girls' night out takes a horrific turn.
Flash forward to over a year later, with Mike setting his sights on a new quartet of girls (Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Zoe Bell). However, Mike meets his match when two of his intended victims turn out to be stuntwomen and decide to play him at his own game.
Russell is terrific fun as Stuntman Mike and he has one glorious moment towards the end that will have you crying with laughter. The girls are well cast too, particularly real life stuntwoman Zoe Bell (Uma Thurman's stunt double on Kill Bill), though it's a shame Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn't given a bit more to do.
It's important to understand Tarantino's intentions with Death Proof: 1970s exploitation films typically featured scantily clad girls and very little plot and were built around one or maybe two extremely violent set-pieces – the rest of the film was basically filler. With that in mind, Tarantino achieves exactly what he set out to do and Death Proof can be considered a resounding success, with several terrific in-jokes (scratchy prints, missing frames, jump cuts, black and white bits) adding to the whole grindhouse experience.
However, given that this is a Tarantino film, you could be forgiven for expecting better dialogue. As exciting as the spectacular action sequences are, the filler bits are extremely boring and should have been a lot shorter.
Despite some dull patches, Death Proof is an entertainingly trashy thriller that's a treat for exploitation fans and Tarantino fans alike.