Director: James Wan
Starring: Kevein Bacon, Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Preston, Jordan Garrett, Stuart Lafferty, Aisha Taylor, John Goodman, Edi Gathegi
James Wan, who is best known as part of the crew that brought us the Saw series, tries an revenge/action flick, this time out. Death Sentence is in the spirit of the Death Wish series from a couple decades ago. This makes sense, however, since Death Sentence is based on a novel by Brian Garfield, who also wrote Death Wish (got any new ideas, Brian?) and not much has changed since Charles Bronson set out to make the urban jungle safe for decent folk with a sock full of quarters in the original Death Wish. The story is emotionally manipulative and all of the characters are one dimensional. Credibility is badly strained here by the keystone cops who seem helpless to solve crimes that Homer Simpson could figure out. Okay, maybe not Homer, but Lisa could do it in a second! Suffice to say, that these are not CSI-proof crime scenes we are talking about, here. The acting is adequate, but the dialogue and story just don’t work. Luckily, there is plenty of action and enough righteous self-indignation opportunities to keep your mind off all of that boring plot and detail stuff.
Kevin Bacon is Nick Hume, a stable, loving (perfect and boring – haven’t I see this guy in about 3,000 movies before?) family man, whose oldest, and favorite son, Brendan (Lafferty) is senselessly murdered and the broken down justice system is unable to offer more than to put his worthless killer away for a few years. This isn’t good enough for Hume, who sets out for a little eye-for-an-eye justice, but in doing so, brings danger to himself and the rest of his little family. Hedlund plays the requisite stereotypical leader of a gang of non-thinking street toughs, while John Goodman’s acid tongued hard ass, ‘Bones’, is the only interesting character in the whole movie.
It’s not great, but then again neither were most of the Death Wish movies (though number one was better than this). Wan keeps the action up, but you will need to turn your brain down to enjoy this one, which has some kind of muddled message about violence not being the answer. If you are looking for a really enjoyable film for Friday night viewing, this one isn’t the answer either. Let’s hope that Jodie Foster and director Neil Jordan have a better answer when their revenge/action effort comes out in a couple weeks.
Director: James Wan