Death Sentence

June 12th, 2008 Drew Turney, DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

While the Saw franchise continues to rack up millions for distributors Lionsgate, the Australian guys who gave birth to this millenium’s Halloween have languished in a series of straight-to-video duds.

James Wan’s third outing as a director is this bizarre revenge riff starring Kevin Bacon. It’s bizarre because, not really knowing whether it’s a sad drama about the consequences of loss or a violent action thriller, it takes the elements of both genres and turns them up to 11.

Kevin plays a family man who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he and his son pull into a rough neighbourhood gas station late one night. An apparent robbery later and the golden boy, hockey-playing son is despatched with a machete in an initiation killing by the gang.

When the justice system offers nothing more than a deal that’ll put the punk away for only a handful of years, Kevin turns into a haunted stalker, tracking the gangbanger down and skewering him with a butcher knife.

The reprisal by the gang is swift as they come after his family and exact a revenge that sends him over the edge, from a mild mannered insurance actuary to a shaven headed, leather jacket-wearing automaton, kicking in their door and unloading a variety of weapons, nothing of him left but a thirst for vengeance.

Director Wan wields a good eye and the performances are all solid, it’s just that Death Sentence tries to be everything to everybody. Exploitation gorehounds will be waiting too long for the claret, and anyone expecting a melancholy family drama will be in for a shock.


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