It may not be for everybody, but it’s totally for me. So this is about a non-traditional serial killer, Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell). Given his profession, he has a car that is considered to be death proof in that if it happened to be completely destroyed for the sake of a movie shoot, he would still be able to walk away, given how it is built. He gets his jollies by tracking down groups of women and killing them in horrific crashes, but it seems like he has met his match when he sizes up a new group. The adoration I have for Tarantino’s filmography is no big secret. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I celebrate this man’s entire library, so it is plain to see why many of his older movies have creeped their way onto this blog. Death Proof is his least well-received film, at least when you go by your standard aggregates like metacritic or rottentomatoes, but it has always had a special place in my heart because it was the first Tarantino I got to see in a theater with the release of the double feature Grindhouse.
Love a touch of fourth wall breaking.
Now even though I admittedly adore this movie, I will go so far to say that the theatrical cut is tighter and more cohesive than the director’s cut. Any added scenes are still strong, but for story flow, it makes sense for them to be left on the cutting room floor, especially when the double feature is already pushing past the three hour mark. Planet Terror is well and fine, but it’s got nothing when compared to Death Proof and its catchy soundtrack. The dialogue shines brightly, and even when it’s just these girls in a coffee shop, shooting the shit about old car movies, it’s still something that I find to be fascinating, although I do realize that some may find it to be trite. But that’s not the only thing to love about this. The sequence in the middle featuring the song “Hold Tight” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich is outstanding and wicked, but the real star of this movie is the climactic car chase finale, and I’m just going to come out and say it: it’s the best car chase ever put to film.
And yes, I’ve seen Bullitt.
You could make the argument that this is Tarantino at his most indulgent, and it would be difficult to make a case against it. I, personally, love all the craziness that is going on in the man’s head, but I do realize that I am a biased party. Even though he borrows liberally from many an obscure film, there is nobody else out there that has the craftsmanship that can parallel Tarantino, which is why I support him as rabidly as I do. Death Proof is the better half of Grindhouse, a perfect slice of asphalt insanity and wears its coolness on the sleeves of its driving jacket.
Death Proof (2007) *****
– Critic for Hire