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Years before Peter Finch, as Howard Beale in NETWORK, chanted, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!", Charles Bronson's Paul Kersey was well beyond that point. DEATH WISH, among other things is a gritty, unflinching look at the violence urban dwellers all over America faced in the 1970s. Paul Kersey, an Upper West Sider, discovers that his wife has been murdered, and his daughter raped and beaten by intruders. In an interesting twist on movie convention, Kersey doesn't seek revenge by going after the men who destroyed his family: he goes after any and all criminals. Bronson's portrayal of an average guy who, in stages, progresses from amateur to super-vigilante, is very credible. The psychological complexities are intriguing. On one level, he can't let go of the past, so he continues his rampage. However, at the same time, he redecorates his apartment and berates his son-in-law for living in the past. But it makes sense. His daytime self wants to be normal, his night-time--darker--side is bloodthirsty.
There is also an ethical complexity to this film. We all know, somewhere in our moral calculus, that vigilantism only promotes chaos and anarchy. We know we need a police department to enforce our laws. But what happens when that law enforcement is too bogged down by red tape, overwork, and apathy? Paul Kersey did seek justice through proper channels, harrassing the police to move more quickly on the case.Read more ›
At least in the larger U.S. cities 30 years ago, residents had become totally fed up with traditional law enforcement initiatives. It was no longer safe to walk the streets at night. Even more dangerous to do so in public parks. Homes were robbed while people worked during the day. Many of the same homes were robbed again later after insurance coverage replaced the articles previously stolen. Racial animosities, drug abuse, and a widespread contempt for institutional authority all contributed to such problems.
When we first meet Kersey, he is in all respects a gentle man. A successful architect who is happily married (Joanna, Hope Lange) and a proud father of his beloved daughter, he is carefully positioned as a law-abiding citizen. To repeat, a gentle man. Over time, after his wife and daughter are brutally attacked by thugs who escape punishment, Kersey commits himself to ridding the city of such creatures. In fact, he seeks them out in the most likely areas (e.g.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My father loves the Death Wish franchise and I liked the fact I didn’t have to pay too much. The movie arrived on time and plays.Published 18 days ago by Michael Cecil
This is the movie to watch when you've had a bad day. After his wife is killed by street hoods, Bronson kills a total of ten people. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
What a great classic gem this movie is. I love movies where vigilantes take the law in their own hands and do what the cops should do but don't. Read morePublished 1 month ago by B-Goody
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