The Rules: 1) Only one will win, 2) the House, the School, and the Prison are safe, 3) follow the arrows, or you will die, 4) stay on the path, or you will die, 5) sorry ladies, if you are lapped twice, you will die, 6) do not touch the grass or you will die, 5) Race or die.
A girl in a hospital gown gets the news that she has cancer. She says that is what killed her mother and sister, and walks out. Why is it always the fat guys who have the gowns that don’t tie all the way shut in the back?
She begins taking medicine and going for nightly runs, getting into awesome, glistening hot-body shape. Feeling quite proud of herself she looks up at the sky and curses God, flipping him off.
The next day she finds that her cancer is in complete remission, so ya can’t say the big guy holds a grudge. On the other hand, she suddenly finds herself transported in a flash to the titular race, accidentally steps on the grass (breaking Rule 6), and her head explodes in spectacular fashion. OK, so he’s mercurial at best.
In Afghanistan, soldier Justin Connor drags his 1.5 legged comrade Eddie to safety. Years later, in the states, Eddie is giving a pep talk to a group of kids with disabilities at a school where Justin is vice-principal. Like the girl, they suddenly see a flash of light and find themselves in the race. They see the girl explode.
A pair of deaf people that they had seen just before being transported to the race are there also. They are amazed that they were able the “hear” the instructions.
All seem to get the basic concept, so most take off running. One man tries to go over the wall, and is rewarded with an exploding head. Everyone, even the deaf people hears numbers representing the number of survivors . . . just like in Battle Royale or the cannons in Hunger games.
Just to make it even more like Battle Royale, two Japanese characters are introduced — a teenage girl and her chubby little brother. This is now Battle Royale with Cheese. Justin and Eddie are clearly the good guys here, and stop to help the kids, but end up leaving them behind to find help. They even stop to help an old man in a walker. They are joined by the deaf couple and take the geezer to the house.
They form a human roadblock to prevent anyone else from passing through the house and lapping the old man, which would kill him. One jerk takes off, killing the old man, and also runs past the kids, exploding their heads. Justin tries to catch him, despite the guy claiming to be a Tour de France winner (and wearing a yellow jersey). Justin comes within inches of stopping him, but to be fair, the guy had’t had time to dope-up before being put in this race.
Tour de France guy is a killing machine lapping a dozen people and leaving a trail of exploded heads behind him. He finally stops when he sees a pregnant woman. But just for a chat, before he continues, killing her too. Just as in Children of Men, the mother is one of the very few blacks in the movie, so he can also be accused of raaaaaccism.
Justin is killed, but one-legged Eddie is able to kill off his murderers using crutch-fu. Things get interesting when the racers realize they can use the arrows as weapons and actually start pro-actively murdering their competition. Now we are in True Battle Royale territory.
Sure, it borrows from a lot of other stories, but guess what — they borrowed from a lot of other stories too. Am I not entertained? Yes. No, wait, No Or is it Yes? That’s one of them trick questions. I was entertained. Consider, they had to make a movie about people walking in a circle but found a way to make it work. Now if only NASCAR could only make their driving in a circle the slightest bit interesting.
The finalists aren’t surprising, but how they get there is. I can imagine people being disappointed by the ending, but I give the producers credit for not taking the easy way out, or blatantly setting themselves up for a sequel.
- They determine that everyone in the race was on the same block in the city when the bright light brought them here. Which makes more sense when you see the final scene.
- A basic of similarity to The Long Walk novella by Stephen King. Except there is an actual ending; also unlike his novella version of The Mist. Or the conclusions to most of his early books which was to burn down the school / town / hotel / Las Vegas / or in Firestarter, everything.
- OK, I’m no liberal automaton, but means “no” means “no” even in ASL. Still, Deaf Girl (as she is credited) couldn’t spare Deaf Guy a comforting kiss knowing that they were almost certainly within minutes of death? Is that really the time for the “like a friend” spiel?
- And why is it American Sign Language? Why wouldn’t all languages use the same set of hand signals? Turns out there is a lot of overlap, but a lot of difference too.
- There is a bizarre photographic choice when Eddie pulls his car up to Justin’s school. It is like tilt-shift pictures where only a small portion of the frame is in focus. There is no reason for it, it does not recur, and I don’t see that it symbolizes anything. It just seems like something a young director does before they lose their balls. I just saw Jaws in the theater, and there is no way Stephen Spielberg could make that same picture today.