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I'm coming for the rest of your family. You just bought them a death sentence. - Billy Darley
Anybody that knows me to any degree should be aware that I f*cking love the vigilante subgenre. Rolling Thunder, Death Wish, The Crow, Magnum Force, Wake of Death, The Punisher, Straw Dogs, Revenge, Payback, First Blood, what I did to my ex… all retribution themed heavy hitters that I cherish more than snatch itself. I actually worship revenge films so much that I even partook in one called
DEADEN with Director Christian Viel. So yeah, I got lots of loving for the art of cinematic PAYBACK! Thus when I heard that Brian Garfiled’s (who wrote Death Wish) novel
DEATH SENTENCE was being made into a flick and by the director of SAW no less; well yeah; I popped some major artillery in my khakis. So…did I shoot blanks? Read on!
DEATH SENTENCE was a very welcomed (by me anyways) throwback to the gritty, no bullshit, testis on its sleeve, I will f*ck you up vigilante films of old. This celluloid badass smartly stuck to the basic revenge narrative formula. You know the one that has proven to work a bazillion times by now? Yeah, that one! Our “everyday man” hero and his “picture perfect” family were introduced, the movie made me care about them and then it savagely pulled the rug from under them…and me! To be honest, the fairly standard characterization at hand wasn’t why I gave a hoot about these people. It was the stellar casting that made it all happen. You just can’t go wrong with Kevin Bacon in this kind of role (in any kind of role actually, unless he’s dancing silly-monkey in a warehouse) and the fact that he was well surrounded in terms of his co-stars was the cherry on top of this Sunday bloody Sunday. Chemistry was abound and interactions credible, hence I mucho dug.
With that in place, once the shite hit the shan; I was right there with them, specifically our anti-hero. I too was devastated by the loss and I too craved nay yearned for vengeance. And man was it rammed out of the park when it went down! Wan served up brutal tetes a tetes, kinetic/gruesome shootouts (loved the staircase scene) and a handful of memorable/ innovative set pieces that rocked my world via their uniqueness and guts. Wait till you see the “on foot” extended chase bit or the parking lot car mishap. Freaking gold! The fact that Wan gunned out his goodies through zany visuals jacked my “f*ck yeah” factor as well. His “I can be anywhere” camera was always on the move, slamming me right there in the middle of the action where I damn belonged! And when that wasn’t going down he was evoking emotion with his imagery (in tandem with Charlie Clouser's powerful score) or creating potent fanboy chill inducing moments (like that slow-mo in the rain bit) that had the style whore in me charge half price (???). Stab on top of that an outstanding lead baddie (Garrett Hedlund is one to keep tabs on), a hilarious cameo by John Goodman, sly homages to other vigilante films, a perfect illustration of our BS laced legal system (lawyer bit) and clever scenes that went against the grain within the subgenre and you get a retribution injection worth the coin and the beating.
Any beefs with this sucka? A couple. Was it me or did the narrative sport too many illogical moves to serve or/and force the plotline in the direction it had to go? Took me out of the film now and again. And what was up with the cops in this war party? Taking into account the abundance of public carnage that took place; the MIA 5.0. stood out like a sore clit. To make matters worse the film’s prominent policewoman character was an absolute waste (gratefully there was little of her in the flick). She brought nothing to the story (other than something to cut-away to) and was a poor law enforcer at that. I mean; when somebody admits to murder; you book him no? Not this dame...for reason that were never explored. I guess she got her badge in a Frankenberry cereal box, same place I got my feeble writing skills. Finally; some of the dialogue rang corny to me – thank Zeus above (or is it below, where does that f*cker live anyways) that the actors' top notch delivery saved the day most of the time.
All in though Death Sentence was a keeper – it was my kind of film – and the thing is, they don’t make my kind of films anymore – so I loved this violent mofo even more for it! The flick did have it faults, but for me, the whole made them worth sitting through. I pronounce Death Sentence guilty of kicking major ass!