9/29/2011

Death Sentence

Director: James Wan
Writer: Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (based on the novel of the same name by Brian Garfield)
Cast: Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Kelly Preston, Jordan Garrett, Stuart Lafferty, Aisha Tyler
Min: 105
Year: 2007

Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) is an executive with a good family life. One night he and his oldest son, a hokey playing teen, stop a gas station. The son goes in and a gang come in and rob and kill the man behind the register. Then son then gets gets throat slashed by a machete wielding member, as part of his initiation. When, the district attorney tells Hume that he can give the scumbag a guaranteed sentence of 2 to 3 yrs, if he agrees to a lower charge, Hume decides to take manner into his own hands. When he kills him, the gang leader, brother to the deceased swears war on Hume and his family. But, the gang may soon learn that they have fucked with the wrong man.

James (Saw) Wan's ultra-violent revenge thriller works well as a throwback to the 70s movies of this type. The script is very (and I do mean very) loosely based on the novel of the same written by Brian Garfield. Garfield wrote this book as a sequel to his classic Death Wish (which is the book the masterpiece starring Charles Bronson was based on). There is little to nothing to do with that book, but this film works regardless of that.

There is little new or original material that the film adds to the sub-genre, but it is in the handling of the subject-matter that makes it work so well. First and foremost, Bacon gives one of my favorite performances I have ever seen him do. He is loving as a father and badass as a scum-killing motherfucker. His decent into vigilantism is well done,as he is disgusted at first, but by the end becomes a cold-blooded killing machine. I enjoyed the rest of the cast, as well, with Goodman coming off as a suitably sleazy gun-dealer and higher-up to the gang.

Wan gives the movie a washed out look that fits the proceedings. The pacing is fast and furious and the movie never fails to grab your interest. The violence is bloody and exceptionally well handled. Gory squibs, head shots, throat slashing, stabbing, and, best of all, a shotgun amputation manage to give the type of blood-letting that I so like to see in this type of movie and something made by Wan.

It should be noted that the DVD has a director's unrated cut, but there is no extra gore. Instead it is all exposition, which somewhat slow the film down. Though, they don't hurt the movie, it's the theatrical cut that is the superior version.

This is actually my favorite Wan movie. While, Saw might be the better movie; this one holds up much better to repeated viewings. It's ultimately a solid, bloody, and kick-ass movie, with one hell of a climax. If you have never seen it, you owe yourself a favor of viewing of it.

**** out of ****

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