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Death Sentence (2007)

death_sentence movie poster

Nick Hume is a mild-mannered executive with a perfect life, until one gruesome night he witnesses something that changes him forever. Transformed by grief, Hume eventually comes to the disturbing conclusion that no length is too great when protecting his family.

Based on a novel by Brian Garfield, who gave us the original Death Wish, this is the story of a man who loses his mind over the loss of a family member and sets out on a course of violent revenge. Kevin Bacon is Nick Hume; a mild-mannered executive with a loving wife (Kelly Preston) and two great kids living in the suburbs whose only worry in life is where his son is going to go to university. We get to see an opening montage of home videos which sets the scene as we see the boys grow up in a warm and loving environment. Cutting to the next scene, Nick is driving his eldest son home from a school hockey match when they have to stop for petrol. As he fills the tank his son goes inside at the same time as a gang enter the station looking to steal the contents of the till and, as part of an initiation ceremony, kill someone. That someone ends up being his son, in a vicious machete attack.

courtroom bacon

The gang member is quickly caught, but when it gets to trial Nick realises that his son’s murderer will get off with a very light sentence so he declines to testify and he goes free. Feeling helpless and angry at the situation Nick decides to take matters into his own hands and dish out his own kind of justice. His plan is to kill the guilty party and try and piece together the pieces of his shattered life, but as we all know retribution in the movies rarely runs smooth, and very soon the other gang members are threatening his family.

death_sentence_001

This is where Death Sentence differs from other revenge thrillers. We are used to seeing the avenging good guy get the better of the baddies and protect all that he holds dear, but not on this occasion. Nick’s initial actions set off a chain of events that spiral out of control until he is no longer the master of his own destiny and his family are in real danger.

john goodman

Death Sentence got a hard time from critics on release. I’m not going to waste much time on what they said, but dismissing this film as a rip off from movies like Taxi Driver and more obviously Death Wish is ridiculous, there is nothing wrong with paying homage in my opinion. Tarantino admits to stealing ideas from other movies all the time. Death Sentence was written as the sequel to Death Wish, so of course it is going to be similar in tone.

DeathSentence

James Wan is on directing duty here, and doest stray far from the source material according to things I’ve read. We are a long time after the Bronson starring movies, but this movie deserves to be seen and admired in its own right. I’m a huge James Wan fan, I love Saw, Insidious and everything he has been involved with pretty much. His style is on full show here. Fast cuts, lots of action, blood, violence, a few Saw easter eggs thrown in, some more blood and using music composed by the Saw composer Charlie Clouser. As good a job as Wan does with this film, there is one moment that stands out, as arguably one of the best scenes I think I have ever seen. At one point we watch Bacon’s character being chased through the streets and then up to the top-level of a car park, resulting in a fight and concluding with a car going off the top of the building. This was all done in one continuous scene, and has to be seen to be believed. It truly is incredible stuff, lasting for around 5 minutes in the movie that leaves the viewers out of breath just watching it. Wan has talent and ambition, and it pays off big time with this scene.

death sentence chase

Cast wise, I don’t think I have ever seen Bacon as good as he is here. Whilst he starts as a mild-mannered business guy, with the perfect house and family, and compared to the character you see at the end, the transition is flawless and he deserves so much respect for what he put into this role. Around him, the leader of the gang, Billy Darley (Garrett Hedlund) is perfectly cast and is very easy to despise! John Goodman pops up as an illegal gun dealer and as always brings humour to an otherwise very dark movie.

Billy-Darley-Death-Sentence

I’m not even going to go into any negatives really. This is either a film genre you like or don’t like. There are no half measures here. It’s directed by a guy who is not scared to show you violence, and there are no Hollywood happy family moments here once the home videos at the beginning conclude. It’s dark, nasty, full of twists and turns, and ultimately a revenge thriller for adults. It is full of incredible performances, and as I’ve already mentioned includes one of the best one shot tracking scenes I have ever seen. If you don’t like 2 hour revenge films, or gang culture etc then this isn’t for you. For everyone else, Death Sentence comes highly recommended and whilst ‘enjoy‘ may not be the word to use here, and it’s not perfect by any means, it certainly ticks all the boxes I look for in a revenge film.

7 stars

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74 Comments

  1. Victor De Leon

     /  February 9, 2013

    This movie ruled, TC. Very over looked and under rated. A great performance like always from Bacon and Goodman. I think I have not seen a movie from Wan that I didn’t like. Good review, man!

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    • Glad you agree Vic! Never see much love for this film, so figured I should at least do my bit!

      Cheers buddy 🙂

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      • Victor De Leon

         /  February 9, 2013

        Cheers, TC and I also enjoyed Dead Silence too. Another Wan flick that many passed right over! 🙂

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        • You know something bad? It passed me over too. No excuses, and I want to see Dead Silence, I just never have. I’m ashamed of myself? 😦

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        • Victor De Leon

           /  February 9, 2013

          No, don’t be! Many haven’t seen it. I reviewed it for The Movie Bros a ways back. I’ll post it on Twitter so you can give it a peek. 🙂

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        • I want to see it, I like the cast and I know it’s full of saw homages like this one was. I think this is the push I need to see it. Tomorrow!!

          Ill be sure to read your review, look forward to your thoughts Vic! 🙂

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        • Victor De Leon

           /  February 9, 2013

          Enjoy the movie, Tyson. I hope you like it. Kwanten was quite entertaining in the lead.

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        • Cheers. I like him, and wahlberg! It will get watched! 🙂

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  2. theipc

     /  February 9, 2013

    I remember this being a tough one to watch. Violence of the kind in here doesn’t bother me but I think it just made me depressed and sad.

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    • I hear you, it’s not a happy film. Redemption films are tricky ones, but I feel this is a movie worth suffering for.

      Cheers buddy 🙂

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  3. I have such a sweet spot for this movie. A friend and I were the only ones in the theater opening night. The film definitely didn’t get the attention it deserved. Glad you liked it too Tyson, great review man!

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    • I hear you Ryan, about 6 people saw it opening night in my local cinema. Such a shame, then poor reviews put others off. Those reviews are wrong in my opinion lol! Glad you liked it dude, cheers!! 🙂

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  4. I’ve never seen this. Even if it is a rip-off of Taxi Driver….that would be a good thing wouldn’t it?

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    • Ha, yeah you’d think so! Thing is, the director came out and said he had paid homage to it. There’s a head shaving scene and a couple other little nods, but that’s it. Some critics were just stupidly harsh, not sure what they were expecting.

      Anyway, I loved it, for what little that counts, and if you ever get chance to see it I highly recommend it 🙂 would I advise you wrong? 😉

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  5. Glad you liked this one. I feared that you would rip it apart like every one else.

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  6. GaryLee828

     /  February 9, 2013

    I bought this DVD for like $2 on a black friday sale a couple years back, but have not watched it yet. I didn’t finish the review b/c I sensed spoilers coming. Is this something I should watch soon?

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    • I try not to spoil anything in my reviews, so shouldn’t ruin much. But for sure, I recommend this very highly. You know, sometimes I just want to watch a thriller, and this offered up a lot of surprises. I mean, a revenge film normally is paint by numbers and dull. But sometimes there are pleasant surprises and I would say this is one of those! 🙂

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      • GaryLee828

         /  February 9, 2013

        OK, I will try to watch sometime this week. I plan to watch The Woods today to discuss with your friend Eric (if i remember his name correctly).

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        • Cool, look forward to your thoughts, and hope you like it!!

          The Woods eh?! Nice, be good to hear what you two have cooking with that. 🙂

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  7. I loved the Death Wish films, so I might give this a squirrel. Thanks for the review Tyson

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  8. wordschat

     /  February 9, 2013

    Kevin Bacon is showing up everywhere these days. This looks like his darkest yet.

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  9. Of course, I haven’t seen this but it does sound interesting and I like Kevin Bacon.

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  10. jmount43

     /  February 9, 2013

    I loved Insidious. I’ll definitely be checking this one out.

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  11. gregory moss

     /  February 10, 2013

    Great review TC. Always up for The Bacon (and Goodman’s there too!). 🙂

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    • Cheers Greg!

      Have you seen it? But yeah Bacon is always good and Goodman just adds humor even when it’s a serious role. He is always Walter when I see him on something 🙂

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  12. Fantastic review man. This film has completely passed me by, but the director and cast have me pretty intrigued. Will check it out.

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    • Cheers buddy!!

      Hope you like it anywhere near as much as I did. Wan is an amazing director, Australia should be very proud of him!!!

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      • Reading your review actually made me think about Wan as a director and realise I haven’t seen any of his films which is kinda shameful. I have requested a couple from the library now, so that will soon be rectified.

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        • Not even SAW? 🙂

          Let me know how you get on with the ones you see buddy!

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        • No not even Saw. I sort of just dismissed it as ‘torture porn’ and didn’t think I would be at all interested. But I have read some really interesting reviews of it lately, so am keen to check it our now. Picked up a copy from the library today actually, so will hopefully get to it in the next couple of weeks.

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        • Saw (as I go on about too much here!) is fantastic, and plays out like Se7en in some ways. Just an excellent thriller. As the franchise goes on the torture gets bloodier, but the way the twists and things play throughout 7 movies and their attention to details for fans is unlike any other franchise I know of. Looking forward to your thoughts! 😉

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  13. Fine review sir. It’s been a while but I remember really liking this one. Can’t go wrong with Bacon (kicking) buttey 😉

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  14. Never heard of this one. Sounds like it’s worth a look though.

    Thought I’d let you know that I got 8 views on my 2001 review that you shared. Not a ton, but still more than I would have had. Thanks!

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    • Definitely worth a look dude!

      At least it got you some views, definitely seems random. I have tried a couple of my own links today and got nothing lol. Still think it has been worthwhile, and hopefully a few of us can keep this going 🙂

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  15. I’ve never even heard of this one, Ty. I could see Bacon in this role actually, he could be quite bad ass. But Garrett Hedlund?? WOW, I almost didn’t recognize him. I thought he was lame in TRON Legacy but glad to see he’s got some acting chops after all 🙂

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    • Bacon really turns it on with this, and plays the grieving father so well. Hedlund is good, not seen much of him ,but here he is suitably menacing!! Thanks Ruth 🙂

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  16. I actually wanted to see this, as I like Kevin Bacon, and it’d be awesome to see him back on the big screen after so long.

    Thanks for the heads up Tyson!

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  17. I actually really enjoyed this one. I have not seen it in years, but it was good!

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  18. I thought the original Death Wish was pretty good — though it could have been a bit less explicit; it’s like the first ten minutes are an exploitation film — but haven’t seen the sequels. Death Sentence sounds like an interesting film… I know the author once said he didn’t like the Death Wish movie because it glorified the vigilantism too much. Sounds like this may have been a reaction to it.

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  1. Death Sentence (2007) | Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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