Death Sentence

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/08/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Death Sentence seesaws wildly between being both brilliant and terrible, but ultimately it's worth seeing for some terrific action sequences and Bacon's committed performance.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on Death Wish author Brian Garfield's sequel novel, Death Sentence stars Kevin Bacon as mild-mannered insurance adjuster Nick Hume, who seemingly has it all: a nice house, a loving wife (Kelly Preston) and two respectful, well-behaved teenaged sons (Stuart Lafferty and Jordan Garrett). However, his too good to be true lifestyle is abruptly shattered when his eldest son is murdered by masked thugs during a gas station robbery.

Nick discovers that his son's death was actually part of a grisly gang initiation rite and when his son's killer (Matthew O'Leary) walks free, Nick decides to take matters into his own hands, with predictably violent results. However, in doing so, he sparks off a bloody war of retribution with vicious gang leader Billy (Garrett Hedlund), who also happens to be the killer's older brother.

The Good
Bacon is terrific in the lead, delivering a haunted performance that is both affecting and surprisingly subtle, rather than dropping straight into gun-toting action man mode. Garrett Hedlund is equally good as Billy and there's also an inspired three scene cameo by John Goodman.

Director James Wan (who made Saw) orchestrates some genuinely thrilling action sequences, notably a breath-taking five minute chase sequence and a spectacular climactic shoot-out. The film is also beautifully shot, thanks to John R Leonetti's impressive cinematography and lurid use of colour.

The Bad
That said, Death Sentence also has its fair share of problems, such as occasionally laughable dialogue and ridiculous plot holes that will have you snorting with disbelief. In particular, Aisha Tyler is completely wasted as the rather useless detective assigned to the case and it might have been kinder to ditch her character altogether.

Worth seeing?
Despite its multiple flaws, Death Sentence redeems itself with some genuinely exciting action sequences and Bacon's impressive performance. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 20/01/2020 08:15

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