By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Architect Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is a family man living in New York city. He detests violence, and is seen by his friends as a liberal, hard working individual; that is, until his wife is murdered and his daughter raped in his apartment while he was away. After burying his wife, Paul’s daughter falls into catatonia from the incident. Desperate for some kind of revenge, he takes the law into his own hands, and begins shooting muggers on the streets. His reputation builds as an anonymous vigilante, and the police begin to close in. Meanwhile the media begins glorifying the vigilante, and the talk on the streets is they’re glad he’s around. How many killings is enough for Paul Kersey? Will he ever give up?
Charles Bronson, prior to this known for his stellar work in ensemble films, had a star-making turn in Death Wish which cemented his tough guy image. Bronson delivers the goods as his kindly architect character gradually transforms into the strong, silent type. The sequels would turn the Death Wish series into a joke pretty much immediately, but taken on its own, this is a solidly entertaining action flick.
The film’s depiction of gang violence feels incredibly naive and corny by modern standards. And the attempts to form a discussion about vigilante violence mostly fall by the wayside in the name of cheap thrills. The film isn’t exactly sharply written either. It seems like the only thing New Yorkers talk about is crime in the streets.
Death Wish sparked controversy upon its release for what some critics and filmgoers perceived as a pro-vigilante violence message. Some argued that the film was anti-gun control propaganda; sending the message that the crime rate would be lower if everyone carried firearms….
Make no mistake… that is EXACTLY what the movie’s message is, for better or worse…
A fairly standard potboiler elevated by a truly bad-ass turn by Charles Bronson.
Take a Drink: for Bronson’s body-count
Take a Drink: each time the words “Liberal” and “Vigilante” are used
Drink a Shot: for glorification of vigilante violence