Saturday, January 19, 2008

Death Sentence: Grade D

Death Sentence (2007)
Kevin Bacon, Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Preston, Aisha Tylor, John Goodman. Director James Wan.

Bacon is an insurance executive whose son is murdered by a gang. He loses confidence in the legal system and goes out for vigilante justice. Murder and mayhem ensue. Charles Bronson played the same part better in Death Wish (1974), even though Bacon is a much better actor, and that’s because this movie is so badly written and directed. A great deal of screen time is devoted to assuring us that Bacon is an ordinary family guy who celebrates birthdays with his kids. But that’s boring: we assume it and the message could have been conveyed in 60 seconds. When he turns vigilante, he acts without planning, is unsure and even horrified at himself when he “accidentally” stabs a kid with a garden knife. What kind of vengeant resolve is that? There is none of Bronson’s grim determination or the besieged perseverance of Die-Hard’s John McLane or the revenant fury of Rambo. Bacon’s back is never up against the wall and he seems clueless throughout. As he waits (!) for the gang to come after his family he makes sure the windows are locked in his nice suburban home. There are many other stupidities that detract from the story. What kind of head wound justifies gauze bandages wrapped around the forehead to look like Ray Milland in The Invisible man? Why would you choose a two-shot shotgun to go after a gang of 25 killers? What kind of street thugs bounce up on their toes with each step? The movie tries to make the moral point that personal revenge is not worth it, but that platitude is lost on Bacon. What raises the movie above complete failure is the excellent cinematography, especially in the chase scenes.

No comments:

Post a Comment