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Death Sentence
DVD disk
Jan 7, 2008 By: Sturdy
Death Sentence order
Director:
James Wan

Actors:
Kevin Bacon
Garrett Hedlund
John Goodman

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A father watches as his eldest son is brutally murdered in a gang-initiation. Consumed with vengeance, he retaliates on the gang by killing the member that killed his son. Things quickly get out of hand as the gang declares war on him.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Vengeance movies are a dime a dozen in Hollywood these days, so itís important that if the movie wants to be taken seriously, it must have a take on revenge that we havenít seen before. For DEATH SENTENCE, the new twist is that the gang retaliates, thus creating a new need for revenge for our hero. Usually, the good guy gets wronged and then retaliates, end of movie. Itís not the most original take, but James Wan tries to make a genuine revenge film but ultimately falls short by taking his eye off the goal.

There are many frustrating things about the film, but one of them is the vast number of stupid decisions Kevin Baconís character makes. It starts in the beginning by stopping in the bad neighborhood to get gas and it continues when he doesnít have his family leave the house when the gang threatens them. Typically, a bad decision by an intelligent character is an excuse for a director or screenwriter to not have to think of something else. Such is the case with DEATH SENTENCE. The screenplay felt very lazy and it seemed as if there was too much focus on getting to the finale, so the story suffered for it.

Aside from the lazy screenwriting, I was pleased with the film up until the gangís retaliation killings. At that point, the story turned and all the characters felt empty. It became another mindless, bloody action film. Iím ok with that if thatís the tone set from the beginning, but it didnít fit with the rest of the movie. It was disappointing too, because I enjoyed the human feel to the film up until that point. We had real people in extraordinary circumstances that were trying to cope with tragedy. Then we had another wannabe Rambo film.

The quality of the action sequences followed the same pattern as the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the parking garage sequence and found myself gripping the sides of my chair the entire time. But when the characters went empty, the action lost the intensity. The finale was extremely bland and by that time I didnít care what happened to our hero. That kind of reckless violence works well for military-trained soldiers, but not so much for suburban businessmen.
THE EXTRAS
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene (9:59): If there had to be one scene that deserved its own featurette, it was definitely the parking garage chase scene. James Wan and other crew members talk about what they were trying to accomplish and I think they hit the nail right on the head. The scene was amazing and this featurette is a nice companion piece to it.

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Kevin Bacon (26:23): Iíve always thought Kevin Bacon was a cool dude and this featurette confirms that. Heís pretty honest with the three students that are interviewing him, but some of the questions were kind of lame. I wouldíve liked them to ask some more piercing questions that would give Kevin a chance to open up even more.

Webisodes (18:09): Iíve said this before, but webisodes are boring. Theyíre too quick to offer any insight and theyíre more like teasers for a featurette. These were decent as far as webisodes go, but theyíre designed for people that havenít seen the film.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The film wasnít bad by any means, but it did have its problems. With that said, I think it will provide enough entertainment for most people and at least warrants a rental.
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