Death Wish

Paul Kersey: "Nothing to do but cut and run, huh?"
Jack: "What else?"
Paul Kersey: "What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don't defend us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves."

release year: 1974
genre: drama
viewing setting: home DVD, 10/6/19 and 1/10/04

synopsis: After his wife and daughter are attacked by hoodlums, a normal guy gets a gun and starts killing muggers.

impressions: This is a classic. It's really not an action movie - it's a drama about an average, nonviolent man who gets frustrated with crime and the police's inability to prevent or avenge it. So he makes himself an easy target for muggers and then gives them a lethal surprise. It's great. Look for the ironic dialogue about how not standing up and defending yourself means you're "civilized." Criticism: it sure would have been nice to see Bronson find and exterminate the same three punks who destroyed his family.

innocent death toll: 1
Bronson death toll: 10
death rate of those who sparked Bronson's rampage: 0% (0/3)

things to watch for: Any of the four times when Bronson poses as a likely victim to bait the muggers.

early appearance alert: Jeff Goldblum! Before he turned into the Fly, got chased by dinosaurs, and other such adventures, he was a cackling rapist punk.

acting: Charles Bronson does a great job as an average guy who turns grief into productive action, despite being against guns and violence (few people remember that he actually gets sick after his first mugger shooting.) Vincent Gardenia is fairly unpleasant as an overworked, pushy detective.

final word: A movie that changed our society, kickstarted vigilantism, and cemented Bronson's superstar status in America. Well worth watching.

back to the main review page