Originally part of the 3 hour, double feature homage to 70's drive in cinema "Grindhouse", 2007's DEATH PROOF is the fifth film from Quentin Tarantino, and at first glance, a lesser effort.
When I first saw "Grindhouse", I was really put off by the unending profanity and slow, long dialogue scenes, but a decade has aged the film well, and its MUCH better than I remembered.
We meet two different groups of young, independent women that both cross paths with Stuntman Mike, played with slimy, sexist sleaze by Kurt Russell.
After we see what happens the first half of the film, the movie flashes forward and we meet a second group of women, led by real life Australian stunt woman Zoe Bell, Abernathy (Rosario Dawson) and Kim, well played by Tracie Thoms (Rent).
As the girls bond over drinks in Austin, Texas at a honkytonk overseen by Warren (Tarantino), they bond and spar over topics with style and balls to spare.
When Stuntman Mike becomes obsessed with them, he shadows them quietly, getting bolder in his stalking.
When Zoe finds a replica of the car from her favorite 70's car chase movie "Vanishing Point" ( a personal favorite of my brother Mark and I) she takes the car for a test drive that turns into a fast-paced incredible car chase and joust with the deranged stuntman.
I don't care how slow the first half is, the payoff is worth the wait. Tarantino stages a tribute to the best car chases of all time, using real cars, NO CGI and fantastic camerawork.
Bell is one of the best stuntwomen in the world and her adventure on top of the hood during a 75 mile an hour chase is incredible, fantastic, there are no words.
Tarantino ramps up the action and violence to heights only he can pull off, crafting a female revenge story that's hilarious, graphic and kicks ass for the film's final 30 minutes.
Russell is game, playing crazy to the hilt and matching the bravado with some seriously hilarious whining and panic when the women turn the tables.
At one point, Zoe jumps half into a speeding car, sitting on a closed door with one leg hanging outside and a steel bar held out like she's ready for a death metal joust.
It's jaw-dropping cool in a way only Tarantino could pull off. Bell does all her own stunts. She was Uma's double in the "Kill Bill" films.
At one point, QT stages a car crash that's so graphic, tires run over faces, limbs fly through the air and heads fly off. And then he repeats it over and over in a slow motion orgy of violence.
I think only QT can craft this kind of scene and make me not only watch, but replay it with an appreciation of his craftsmanship.
He's like a maestro of graphic action, making you feel all too comfortable before smashing cars together at high speed so hard you can smell the smoke.
A tribute to the "Vanishing Point", "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" era with a splash of "Bullitt", DEATH PROOF kills and gets a B.
If you are offended by profanity, blood or graphic violence, RUN AWAY like you just saw Stuntman Mike at the bar.....