DIRECTOR: Michael Winner
May contain spoilers!
The film that Charles Bronson is probably best known for, Death Wish is an undisputed classic from the 1970’s. Spawning three sequels, we follow mild-mannered middle-class architect, Paul Kersey (Bronson) as he turns into a vigilante after the rape of his daughter (Kathleen Tolan) and the murder of his wife (Hope Lange) as his New York apartment is raided by a gang led by uncredited Jeff Goldblum.
But not all is as it seems as it becomes clear that he has become a pacifist by choice in his adult life after his father was killed in a hunting accident when he was a child but not after he was taught to be an ace marksman by his dad. It is not long before he is gunning down New York’s muggers, all of which seem to be insane, as well-being hunted by NY’s answer to Inspector Clauseau!
So, we have a high concept script, topical and controversial, a classic dinner party conversation piece on crime and punishment and the screenplay is heavy-handed about it all too, but the acting cannot keep up, with enough ham to fill a small slaughter-house!
The character development is okay but most of it is given to Bronson and the fact that even though his family’s attack is the motivation for his actions, he never manages to find the actual gang who committed the crime, does add to the little integrity the story has got. Not sure about the ending though in which the Mayer wants to let Kersey walk free because crime is down, but anyway, it was a popular movie in its day so what do I know?