Death Sentence (Fox, 2007) D: James Wan, w/ Kevin Bacon, Garrett Hedlund. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NN
We’re in familiar territory here. It’s the solid-citizen’s-revenge-on-the- street-punks genre pioneered in the 1974 Charles Bronson effort Death Wish and most recently revived with Jodie Foster in The Brave One. But those movies are revenge fantasies, all about retributive violence without consequences.
Death Sentence plays more as a revenge tragedy. Things go from bad to worse as upper-middle-class husband and father Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) launches a blood feud when he tries to mete out justice to the gangbangers who killed his son.
Bacon gives it his high-energy best and pulls off a great transition from happy family man to blood-crazed psycho.
Garrett Hedlund as the main heavy matches Bacon’s intensity, but the movie’s biggest and best surprise is John Goodman as the illicit gun dealer who bosses the hoods. His effortless, murderous dominance feels completely real.
In the so-so making-of material, director James Wan (Saw) talks about his commitment to realism. On an emotional level, that means everyone, even the thugs, gets genuine human moments. In terms of spectacle, it means a constantly moving camera and a level of action that delivers high intensity without sacrificing plausibility.
EXTRAS Making a scene doc, film students interview Bacon, 10 webisodes that comprise a decent making-of doc. Widescreen, theatrical and unrated versions. English, Spanish audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.