Saturday, January 19, 2008

Death Wish

This week AMC aired all Death Wish movies in order, allowing me to catch up with a little friend I like to call Bronson.

To be fair, it has been a long time since I saw these movies. I remember them being very good for some reason. At the very least they were comparable or inspiration for the Seagal's and Rambos and Die Hards of the action universe. Boy, was my memory wrong. These movies are pretty bad. Not sure if they just don't hold up well or whether they were always bad. I gave up watching after Death Wish 3. I think it's safe to assume they only got worse from there.

So many issues with these movies so little time to write. Let's start with Bronson the action hero. He's not even in the same class as Dirty Harry or John McClain or any of Seagal's identities. My biggest issue is he rarely ever engages in a fair fight. Until the ending scenes, he's usually mugged or hassled by a guy with a knife as his most dangerous weapon. Bronson will just wheel around and shoot the guy. Not exactly a fair fight. All it takes therefore to replicate Bronson is a disregard for human life. Yeah, he had traumatic experiences and these guys aren't good, but still. Does every petty thief deserve to be killed by a vigilante?

Then there's the ginormous number of incidents inflicting Bronson's friends and families. I know they needed rationale for the vigilante to act, but still. There may be been a worse crime problem in the '80s but these movies appear to illustrate most was directed at people who knew Bronson.

At the end of the day, Bronson is a serial killer. As an iconic figure, I guess he's become our warm and fuzzy serial killer we can all agree to ignore his killings. I can somewhat understand his vengeance for the crimes on his family. But the majority of his killings involve him looking for trouble. He'll usually walk around crime infested areas looking for any reason to blow someone away. There's very little difference between him and a person who kills hookers. Most victims are guilty of muggings or some other thievery. In fact, he wasted some guy who stole a camera off his shoulder. And the bystanders all applauded!

Which leads to the most ridiculous aspect of each movie - authority figures let him get away (or seek his help in Death Wish 3). I'm really surprised we did not have a vigilante problem after the release of these movies. Then again, the crime in these movies were cartoonish and meant to scare the non-poor, not represent reality. Not that there wasn't real crime. But I highly doubt most of it centered around gangs hanging outside grocery stores asking for money and then mugging when they did not get money. But I digress. At the end of Death Wish the cop gives him his gun and tells him to leave the state. In Death Wish 2 he's covered in blood after gutting an assailant (actually one of the guys he had a beef with). And the doctor gives him 3 minutes to leave. Funny how quickly everyone could find out that he was the true good guy.

In a sense these movies are fascinating given the historical significance. I grew up in the Reagan era. And while I was never really worried about crime, I was aware it was out there and scary and dangerous. These movies definitely play into that fear that apparently others felt more deeply than I. Though I was young and grew up in a suburb of Detroit.

Death Wish: C
Death Wish 2: D+
Death Wish 3: D-


*movies*pop culture*Bronson *action *hero*vigilante*killer *Death Wish*John McClain *Dirty Harry *Steven Seagal


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