Written by: John Edward Betancourt
We all suffer from an interesting issue when it comes to motion pictures. We love villains. We cannot take our eyes off of them, we cannot spend enough time talking about them, they simply fascinate us. I don't know if it is a darker side of us that somehow gravitates to the evil that we see on screen, because that gets into an interesting discussion for another day.
Instead, maybe, just maybe, we aren't necessarily all about the villain and what he or she stands for...but the person who plays them. It could be the actor that somehow makes the villain worth our while and that specific reason is why I think Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof is so damn enjoyable.
Stuntman Mike lives on the edge, just as his namesake implies. It is all about thrills and chills for Mike as he brings about death-defying stuns that keep all of us in awe on the screen. He does his job from his death proof car day in and day out and always has a smile on his face. But don't let his charm fool you, Mike has a secret. He's a sucker for a beautiful lady, and he loves nothing more than to kill them in the most thrilling of fashion.
The second half of the film Grindhouse is not without its flaws. At times Death Proof is a little slow and seems to lose its way. Yet, you are captivated with every frame of this film. The characters manage to jump off the screen thanks in part to amazing performances from Rosario Dawson and a hell of a surprising turn from Zoe Bell. Plus the gory special effects are about as top notch as they get courtesy of always fantastic work from KNB.
But there is one man that steals the show in this film, and it's Kurt Russell's turn as Stuntman Mike and his performance is exactly what I mentioned earlier...this is a villain that you cannot stop being fascinated with. It's obvious that Stuntman Mike is one sick sonofagun. With his incredible and creepy ability as a stalker and well...his bloodlust to kill girls by way of car collision. Yet, Kurt's ability to turn on the charm when he needs to and genuinely terrify us a few seconds later is well...just incredible. It speaks to the talent that Mister Russell exudes on screen but also helps build the film up to a big surprise, the fact that when it comes down to it, Stuntman Mike is a big wimp.
While Death Proof is a disgusting character study in the spirit of exploitation films in many ways, Director Quentin Tarantino and his unique style also make the film a fascinating character study by presenting the two halves of a killer. I love the fact that this film presents a sadistic killer as just a man who in the end, is terrified of death and pain like the rest of us...he's just found himself in a place where he can control and beat it and man...that makes for a smart horror flick and ends up making Death Proof completely worth your while.