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I was recently renting some DVDs from my local library when I came across this thriller called 'Death Sentence' and starring Kevin Bacon. When I read the synopsis on the back of the DVD it basically told me the whole story of the movie (so I strongly advise avoiding reading it if you can!). I thought the film sounded like one of these brutal gun-battle baddie movies that most often star people like Steven Seagal or most recently Jason Statham. I figured that Kevin Bacon must've reached the point in his career when he was reduced to playing these kind of dumbed-down roles. I therefore didn't expect much from this film and was really surprised to find myself completely invested in Bacon's performance throughout the film and feeling like I'd just seen something great when the credits rolled.
This film was initially released in 2007 and is a thriller and drama directed by James Wan of the notorious 'Saw' horror movies. The star of the film is Hollywood stalwart Kevin Bacon ('Hollow Man') as Nick Hume, a normal hard working family man. Nick is about to see his eldest son graduate and move towards a professional ice hockey career when the boy's young life and dreams are ended by a moment of brutal violence at the hands of a mindless, vicious city gang. When the young man's killer is only guaranteed a short sentence for the murder should Nick testify against him in court Nick decides in a moment of anger and grief that he will dish up his own form of revenge on the perpetrator. Gang warfare and their warped sense of fraternity is not something Nick knows anything about though and his decision to stand up to the gang sparks off a massive bloody battle for which he is wholly unprepared.
Kevin Bacon is by far the best thing about this movie. Many less talented actors could have taken this part and the movie would have been an emotionless mess of nothing but violence. Bacon is a class above the standard of storytelling here and he demonstrates great skill in creating a character that audiences can sympathise with on a deep spiritual level amid all the shoot outs and jittery chase scenes. I actually found myself thinking after some of Bacon's scenes: "Wow, that was beautiful acting!". He actually transforms this film into something more meaningful than just a violent thriller and he does it all with his performance.
The only other actor I really recognised in this movie were John Goodman who plays the gang's big cheese. Goodman is an awesome actor who always impresses me in every acting role I see him in. He's also one of those actors that always seems to give 100% and to create something out of nothing, bringing stale scripts to life with his acting magic. He is once again very impressive in this small role and he makes a part that doesn't get much screen time very memorable.
The action and suspense in this film are handled well although towards the end there are moments of graphic violence and gore that seem more suited to the horror genre and which I thought were unnecessarily amplified. I was compelled by the dangerous game that Nick and the gang members played but the plot is not overly clever or complicated. The best moments of the movie come when we see Bacon playing this very vulnerable man who is just pushed over the edge and who loses all sense of reality and normality.
Ultimately I really enjoyed this movie and especially the lead performance. I was never sure how things were going to play out so I was always invested in the characters and the story. Bacon and Goodman were outstanding and they help to elevate this movie into something more art-driven rather than it being just another replication of war games for the boys. I would actually watch this again given the chance and would recommend it to those who enjoy fast paced, exciting thrillers and intense, electric acting performances.
I came across this online and having seen some decent reviews, plus noting it starred Kevin Bacon who I consider to be a good actor, I was looking forward to giving it a watch. I wasn't disappointed; it was emotional, had impact and kept me gripped throughout.
Death Sentence was directed by James Wan, who has worked on some popular horrors like Saw, Dead Silence and Insidious, so he's got experience in the field that I think shows in this film. We're introduced to Nick Hume, an executive with an average to wonderful family life, complete with wife and two boys. The film opens by showing us home footage throughout the years as his boys grow older, one becoming a successful hockey player and about to make the next move to the pros upon choosing a college to go to. It's on one fateful night, driving home from this older child's hockey game and stopping for gas, that everything changes.
A gang enter the gas station and kill the counter assistant, and cajoled to follow suit, the newbie of the gang takes a knife to Hume's older son. Hume isn't there to save his son, rushing in afterwards and being able only to be there for his last moments. Fuelled by anger and consumed by the feeling of unfairness, Hume's actions are not in line with what's expected; he was able to identify the one guy that killed his son, but it's unlikely the courts will give him much as Hume was the only witness. And so Hume takes things in to his own hands, unable to sit around whilst his wife and younger son mourn their loss and Hume is left feeling like a useless father. It turns out the killing was part of a gang initiation, but exacting revenge on the newbie comes with far more consequences that he could have imagined.
Apparently, taking the life of a murderer doesn't even the balance for the innocent life lost, and the gang, headed by a mean looking Billy Darley, won't let Hume get away with it. I won't say any more on the premise, except to say that as the film continues, the premise darkens and we see that violence and vengeance seem to be a never-ending chain of actions and reactions.
This film is described as being 'in the vein of death wish', and revolves around the concept of retribution and vengeance, of payback and restoring balance to the equation of life and death. We see, for instance, the transformation of the cheerful, down to earth dad and successful businessman in to a man crazed with bloodlust, fearful and angered at the same time, beaten down but committed until the end. When his actions start a chain reaction and his remaining family get put in the path of danger, he becomes even more crazed, injured, head shaved, exhausted but determined to protect his family. The question is, will vengeance ever be achieved, and can he do what he couldn't for his eldest son and keep the rest of his family safe?
The cast includes Kevin Bacon (as Nick Hume), Kelly Preston (Helen Hume, Nick's wife), Jordan Garrett (Lucas Hume), Stuart Lafferty (Brendan Hume), Edi Gathegi (Bodie), Garrett Hedlund (Billy Darley), John Goodman (Bones Darley) and Matt O'Leary (Joe Darley), amongst others. I thought there were a few strong names and recognisable faces in the flick to give it that bit more of a sense of credibility and authority, and overall, the acting was fairly realistic and gripping, especially with regards to Bacon.
What I loved about this film was Bacon as the protagonist; he played the character brilliantly, from the moments of hairline fractures in his composure, a little craziness and utter helplessness, to sheer determination and full-on heat for vengeance. The script and direction really aided the character's believability because he came across as you'd actually expect him to as an everyday guy. He doesn't know how to load a gun smoothly, how to take down hardened criminals, to jump over roofs and land like a ballerina. Instead, he fumbles with the shells in a rifle, he flusters and panics, not knowing where to go next and he uses common-sense basic moves to outwit the opponent.
The film overall had a good quality feel to it, being directed and scripted well for a memorable impact. What started off quite serene with shots of family footage and talk of hockey games suddenly turns horrifically sad and dark. The transitions and events unfolded clearly so as to avoid any confusion and so I didn't find myself really struggling to grasp anything or remember who's who. The atmosphere was tense and anticipation was built up well, keeping me gripped and wanting to know what happens next. At the same time, I actually found the film to be very emotive. Now, I'm not one to cry at films so getting emotional must mean the film's doing something right for me because I became quite attached to Bacon as a character, sympathising and empathising with him. I wanted his family safe, his pain to go away and the bad guys to go down, constantly cheering on Hume as a character throughout. I also felt for the mother and younger brother of the murdered teen, finding the whole situation fairly heart-wrenching. Emotions quickly flared as Bacon switches tones and his character becomes crazed, violent; he's on the attack for vengeance of his son, and on the defence at the same time to protect his family, willing to go any lengths to achieve both.
The downsides? At times, I do think it could have had a little more impact and have been a little more atmospheric in terms of tension. Those qualities were there, but they could have been greater. I think also knowing it's from the Saw director, I probably expected it to be a little more gorey, a bit more iconic and thrilling than it was, but as I found Bacon so watchable, I can't say I was that disappointed.
The premise wasn't overly complex, but it was intelligent enough to keep it interesting and add a bit of depth to the piece. In tandem, the character depth and relationship development also gave it more of a three dimensional feel, leaving you with the sense of a well-rounded film that's good quality and worth watching. I know that I talked about the flick after watching it and my boyfriend thought quite highly of it to, with us both agreeing that Bacon really did add to the gritty, realistic sense of the character to make it so watchable and emotive.
Overall, I was quite impressed by this film, even though it could have been better. It blended moral undertones, emotive performances, depth and explosive action in to one, keeping a good pace to grip the viewer and maintain an atmosphere of tension. If you want something dramatic, something that should leave at least some imprint in your memory, a great performance and some action, then I'd recommend giving this a watch.
DVD released 2008, rated Certificate 18 for scenes of violence.
Selling on HMV.com for £12.99
My boyfriend loves his films, has a huge collection of them and is currently trying at the moment to 'educate' me in the genre of good movies and this is one of his favourites!
Film Review Only:
This film is about a family man called Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon), married with two boys (Brendan and Lucas) he has a happy, almost idyllic family life with a good job as a rick accessor, nice home etc.
All that changes one dreary night when running out of gas in the car, him and his son Brendan need to stop at a station to fill up. Whilst Nick fills the car with said gas his son nips into the gas station to grab something. In a matter of minutes Nicks life is changed forever and Brendan (a promising hockey star) gets his throat cut and later dies in hospital.
The family of course struggle with the loss of the eldest son and amongst this grief when it goes to court Nick finds out that his sons death wasn't the result of a robbery gone wrong but it was simply a gang killing to iniate a new member called Joe (his brother is the gang leader). When the case goes to court Nick decides that instead of testifying against the thug who killed his son (as he had seen his face) and him getting a 3-5 years and a rather lenient sentence that he won't testify against the kid and will dole out his own punishment in his own way and his own time.
The film isn't gratuitously violent though a bit bloody in places. Nick does get into fights as he takes on a massive gang, all of whom were there the night his son was killed. Nick targets one of the members and after that all hell breaks loose with a car going off the edge of a multi storey car park and things. Knowing he and his family may be now at risk because the gang leader is involved he talks to Jessica Wallis who is a detective involved in the case of his son dying and she issues police protection and Nick is then told he has signed his own death sentence by the gang.
This is then a game of cat and mouse, again people die, people including people I wasn't expecting to but will nick be able to save himself or his family before its too late?
The film for me was simply ok. It wasn't really gory though the bits I felt were trying to be suspense really were not though to be fair there was a part at the end of the film that I wasn't expecting to happen so it had a decent twist. John Goodman who played the gang leaders son in it briefly was as always (in my opinion) brilliant and Kevin Bacon also was convincing as a man on the edge. The music throughout the film added to the slight suspense of the film. I didn't think this was the best film I had ever seen and as it was was directed by James Wan who also directed Saw I did expect a little more tension. Not a bad film......though not bad neither and at least it didn't drag on and I wanted to see how to story ended!
Directed by James Wan
Produced by Ashok Amritraj
Karen Elise Baldwin
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) August 31, 2007
Running time 110 min
An 18 film
In recent years, former brat-pack actor Kevin Bacon has made a concerted effort to shed his previous image with a radical change in his choice of acting roles. He was excellent in the disturbing Stir Of Echoes, highly credible as a sex offender in the very uncomfortable The Woodsman and now is equally as disconcerting in this highly violent and polished thriller which takes a look at just how far one man is prepared to go to achieve justice for his dead son and the far-reaching consequences of those same actions!
Bacon stars as Nick Hume, a successful business man whose son is murdered in front of him when they stop at a garage for petrol. When Hume discovers the judical system is going to let him down, he decides to take matters into his own hands and exact his bloody revenge on the gang member responsible. But things escalate when the rest of the gang discover who has killed their buddy and set out to make Hume and his family pay. As things get further and further out of control, Hume quickly becomes more and more violently deranged until he reaches a point where he no longer has anything left to lose. This provides one of the film's most iconic moments when Hume shaves off all his hair, loads up with guns and enters the gang hideout for the bloodiest of shoot-outs and a horrifically violent climax!
Made by one of the producers of Saw, it is no wonder this film is as bloodthirsty as it is! The scene where Hume's son is killed is paticulary nasty and shocking and the film never lets up any punches from there!! One scene in a car-park is a brutal example of all this film has to offer and there is no doubt this is a film defenitely intending to shock its audiences with its violence that is made ever more acceptable by the very nature of its setting. Was I the only one egging Bacon on (sorry about the pun!) at each and every stage of his vengeance? Surely not! But the message here seems to be that such rough justice does not come without its price and that if you are going to walk down this path, then you need to be prepared to give up everything that you hold dear!
This is a nasty, nasty film that, despite his career of late, is still a radical depature for Bacon who, on paper, really doesn't look right for this role. He does however manage to pull it off and the only very slight let-down is the very last scene which tries for redemption with the breifest glimmer of hope in what, until now, has been a very dark and evil film!
After my recent flurry of activity inside the local Blockbuster store I was beginning to forage around in the bottom shelves for something I hadn't already seen. I find the films in this region of the store tend to fit into two very distinct categories; pretty darn brilliant or absolutely bloody awful. I spotted Death Sentence and decided to give it a go firstly because I enjoyed the last Kevin Bacon film I'd seen (Stir of Echoes) and secondly because my partner would be agreeable as it had words along the lines of blood, guts and violence somewhere in the blurb. Released in 2007 and directed by James Wan, Death Sentence is based on the novel of the same name by Brian Garfield.
Suburban family man Nick Hume is driving home from a game of hockey with his eldest son Brendan. His fuel level is getting low so he stops in a less than affluent neighbourhood to stop for petrol (or gas). A young gang appears and Brendan is killed almost instantly by Joe Darley. Nick thinks justice will be served in court but when he learns that Joe will get just 3 years, he doesn't cooperate and takes matters into his own hands.
It's easy to sympathise with Nick from the outset; he was just in the wrong place in at the wrong time and the 'what ifs' he must contemplate, filling him with guilt must be awful. No parent expects to outlive their child but for his son to suffer such a violent death for a gang initiation makes matters even worse. As the film progresses we see how Nick justifies his actions and as things start to spiral out of control, I start to feel he's going too far because he jeopardises the lives of his remaining family just to get revenge, after all nothing will bring Brendan back.
The first half of the film is really good, it sets the scene and the characters motivations are made clear, I began feel part of the situation but then all of a sudden it just goes too far. When Nick shaves his head and goes into commando mode the plot seems to spiral out of control, becomes a huge killing spree and never really recovers. I found Nick's actions totally out of character and after a terrible incident in their home he still carries on regardless of the cost and I just didn't find this part realistic, although I wasn't expecting it either.
Despite this, director James Wan has still created some fantastic scenes in the movie; there are some great chase sequences and the camera manages to capture the fast pace of it all brilliantly. Even during the over the top final half, the film portrays a creepy atmosphere and the grainy effects give it an almost apocalyptic feel.
The element of surprise was good here, I definitely wasn't expecting a happy ending and I never knew who was going to die and who would survive. Because of this, the film went along a quite a fast pace and I was engrossed throughout, despite the 105 minute running time.
There are some gaping holes in the plot, especially when suburban husband becomes gun wielding action man but without this the action couldn't happen so I suppose the rabbit had to be pulled from a hat at some point in time.
I enjoyed Kevin Bacon's performance as the devoted husband hell bent on vengeance. It's difficult to say how someone would react to the slaying of their son but I think he did the part justice and made me believe his actions were justifiable for the most part. He has lots of emotional scenes and I felt the torment, anger and guilt he put across on the screen.
Kelly Preston only has a couple of scenes as Nick's wife Helen, but she manages to make her mark, giving an emotional performance. Stuart Lafferty doesn't really have time to shine as Brendan but Jordan Garrett is really good as the brother that's left behind.
Garrett Hedlund was believable as gang leader Billy albeit a bit clichéd at times and Matt O'Leary is okay as younger brother Joe. John Goodman has a couple of fantastic scenes as Billy and Joe's Dad, I found him greasy, weird and morally ambiguous which is a total surprise from the guy I remember from sitcom Roseanne and being Fred Flinstone.
This is an 18 certificate and I definitely wouldn't reccommend letting anyone younger watching it as there is a lot of violence, blood and guts.
Regardless of the absurdity of the final 30 minutes my partner and I enjoyed this film from start to finish; there were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me guessing, it never pretended to have a fairy tale ending and Kevin Bacon made me believe in his character. I rented this as part of a 5 films for £5 promotion; effectively costing £1 to watch which I thought was a good price to see a good movie. If you fancy buying this it is £4.97 on Amazon with free super saver delivery.
- Plot - MOVIE SPOLIERS!!
Death Sentence (2007) begins with showing us part of the life of a loving family shot through the eyes of a camcorder. Home video's at its best. You see through chronological order their birthdays, them growing up, how relationships between family members evolve, and other special moments that are shared from the Hume family.
The beginning and first few scenes of the movie are set around the family, you learn that one of the sons, Brendan, manages to convince his father Nick to let him go to college to try for Ice Hockey. This is managed because they had just been to a game which the father thoroughly enjoyed and thought it would be great to see his son doing the same. Originally he had been against the idea of it mainly because of his views on it being an unsafe sport, reinforced by his position dealing with risks as a senior vice president in an insurance company.
Nick has what seems the perfect life made up of a good career, a loving wife, and two clever children with bright futures ahead of them. He seems an easy going type kind of guy with a positive outlook on life. That all changes on the night of the game that he went to watch with his son Brendan. On driving home they are met buy a couple of vehicles heading towards them without their headlights on. As they pass by they flash their own headlights to draw attention to the lights of the unknown drivers. Moments later an indicator light starts blinking telling them they are low on fuel.
They stop at a gas station to get refueled, whilst Nick is filling the car up he calls his wife to tell her about the decision they made regarding hockey, and Brendan goes inside the station to by himself a smoothie drink. The cars that passed them by earlier pull up and gang members exit the vehicles in what seems to be a robbery to Nick.
The inside of the station tells another story that the police are only too aware of. Instead of a robbery taking place it is actually an initiation for a thug to join the gang. He must do a random kill and it just so happens these two members of the Hume family were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Days later the murderer is picked up by the police and put in a line up for Nick to identify. He is picked and the police say he name is Joe and is an animal. A hearing is scheduled for the sentence of Joe. Nick learns prior to it that because he was the only eye witness and that the murder weapon wasn't found, nor was the CCTV camera working that Joe would most likely only get five years in prison.
- My thoughts -
I'll stop with the plot there, all of what I have written happens at the beginning of the movie. Death Sentence is a very engrossing film. Because of the love you have seen on screen through the development of the characters you feel sorrow for his family. You genuinely want to know what will happen next and even though it looks like a generic plot there are twists which all make for an interesting film.
The music throughout is incredibly powerful (I bought the soundtrack), it really sets the mood. It had my girlfriend in tears throughout the film. Even though I had seen the film before I didn't notice just how good the music was. The acting is also excellent, Kevin Bacon is at his best playing a traumatized father. A man who previously thought about outcomes turns into somebody neither his wife nor he would recognize, not caring about future consequences. The change he goes through shouldn't be missed.
It was nice to see John Goodman make an appearance in this type of film. I hadn't really seen him in anything other than a comedy. You'll be surprised how different he is to Nick as a father. Full of hate and anger.
I can't really fault this movie other than not really liking the ending. It was a little over the top. There is plenty of action throughout, the chase scene was very griping and exciting. It might be too brutal for some, there are a couple of graphic scenes.
The idea though of the film is scary, this actually happens even though we might not be made aware of it as much as others. It shows you what monsters there are out there in this day and age and you are never truly safe, not even in your own home. How can people kill each other for no real reason?
I highly recommend this film if you are after a decent drama/thriller. It is tense, and you won't be disappointed.
4 out of 5
Thanks for reading.
In Death Sentence Kevin Bacon stars as Nick Hume in a gripping thriller that is all about one man search for revenge and redemption. Bacon is a pretty normal bloke with a family and a steady job however one night while driving home with his son they stop off at a petrol station and walk straight into an armed robbery which is actually part of a gang initiation process where the new member has to kill someone as part of the process in cold blood rather than just shooting another gang banger. Such initiation ceremonies do take place as there was reportedly one in Los Angeles where the gang drove round at night with no lights, the first car to flash them as a warning was followed and the driver shot. Scary stuff.
Nick survves but his son does not and as the evidence aganst the killer rests on Nick testimony only (where are the CSI crowd when you need them) it looks like the killer will get away with a short sentence and so Nick decided not to testify but to exact his own form of revenge.
What is impressive about this film is to see how Bacon transforms himself into someone capable of getting revenge against a group of gang members who are used to violence while he is not. This is no Steven Seagal style transformation but Bacon is excellent and conveying the anger and impotency that his character feels and the despair at being let down by the judiciary.
As far as revenge thrilles go this is a pretty good one the supporting cast do a good job and most importantly avoid fallinginto the usual cliches that this type of film sometimes throws up, the action scenes are good and the action moves along at a fast pace to retain your interest. Overall this is a good solid filmand worth four stars and a viewing.
Death Sentence is a revenge thriller modelled very much on the early 80's Michael Winner and Charles Bronson 'Deathwish' series of movies, but with a modern look and attitude to it.
Kevin Bacon is a hard working man with a family. He has an office job and as much as he enjoys his work his family is his life, especially his oldest son, a budding ice hockey star.
One night after a game in the inner city, which particular inner city is never specified, Nick Hume (Bacon) and his son are on their way home when they run low on petrol. They find somewhere they can fill up but when they go to pay they walk in on a robbery. The criminals are part of a gang and the initiation they have for their newest member is to kill a random person. The owner and Nick's son become the targets and Nick's life is irrevocably changed by one small quirk of fate.
With the DA unable to get a life sentence due to there only being one witness, Nick, it looks like the culprit is only going to get a short sentence, something that Nick cannot believe. He refuses to testify in court, deciding that if the killer goes free he can exact his own revenge on the thug.
Kevin Bacon is an incredibly versatile actor, and he shows how much multi talented he is in Death Sentence. Although he has played many different roles during his long career I cannot say I would have imagined him as a vigilante stalking a bunch of thugs.
The main selling point, as shown by the posters and press at the time of its release, was the fact that it was directed by the same man who directed Saw... James Wan. After his breakthrough with saw the interest in what he would do with a different genre was high.
As a modern update of Deathwish Death Sentence is ok, it does nothing new, or even anything spectacular, that makes it stand out particularly but what it does have a smart cohesive storyline that while improbable does not go too far into the realms of implausible.
The main characters, played by Bacon and an excellent Garrett Hedlund (as the gang leader), are what drive the film. They are what makes you want to carry on watching as the story progresses. Bacon is always excellent, whatever type of movie, or role, he decides to get involved in and whatever the quality of the film. You can always guarantee Bacon will not only give his all but will improve the film just through the sheer quality of his acting.
As a father, the quiet office man driven to taking revenge on the thugs he conveys the right moods and actions that make you feel sorry for him. He makes you side with him and you want him to get his revenge while also realising that both you and him know that this is wrong.
Hedlund is almost as good as Bacon, which is some compliment, as the psychopathic gang leader. I have never been that impressed with him before but this time around he show skills and abilities you would never have imagined him to possess. Without such a great performance, if the villain has just been a two dimensional one, then the film would have dropped a few notches from good and ended up being a distinctly average movie. As it is, while being voyeuristic and violent, it turns out to be an enjoyable piece of action cinema.
Death Sentence though is a film to watch when you are in the right mood for this type of movie. You have to be in the mood for a bit of action mixed up with a slice of revenge thriller and if you are then this will fill your expectations fairly well, without actually blowing you away... and there is nothing wrong with that at all.
Family man and all around nice guy, Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) is popular and equally envied wherever he goes. He has a good job, beautiful wife and two great teenage sons however as the saying goes; things don't last forever.
One night on their way back from a hockey game, Nick and eldest son Brendan stop off to get petrol, Brendan goes into the store to buy a drink and is caught up in what looks like a robbery. However this isn't a robbery, far from it. Infact this is a gang initiation ceremony where the only way in for a new member is to kill someone to prove their loyalty to the gang. Unfortunately for Brendan he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes the victim, Brendan dies in hospital after having his throat slashed with a machete. Nick finds it hard to cope with his loss and when he finds out that the man that killed his son with no motive will only get the maximum of 3 years in prison he decides that he'll execute his own brand of justice.
Death sentence isn't really the sort of film that appeals to me, this is one that my boyfriend wanted to watch late one night as it was showing on Sky Movies. I've read about numerous comparisons to Death Wish and how it pales in comparison however I've never seen the film in question so I can't pass comment however I can pass judgement on this film which I have mixed feelings about.
To start off with, Death Wish looks like it's going to be a tense thriller and overall a very good revenge film, there are some really good scenes that capture you and bring you into the mood and tone of the film. For the first hour the film really captured me and I really felt for the Hume family. There's a lot of action in the first hour, the best action sequence being a chase through a car park where Nick is being pursued by the gang members. This is a tense film however is a rarity in this film as after the first hour things seem to dwindle beyond control.
At the beginning, Kevin Bacon looks like he's going to put in a convincing and compelling performance as the heartbroken Father who failed to protect his son when he needed him the most however I found Kevin Bacon to be very uneven in this film, he seems to go from one extreme to the other with the click of his fingers. You start off by feeling his pain and grieving with him however the way something inside of him just snaps was a little incomprehensible for me. He went from being a caring Father and husband to a psychopathic killer and back again with no trouble whatsoever, you'd think that he'd show a little bit more emotion throughout the course of his emotional rollercoaster. Kevin Bacon plays a likeable and relatable character at the start of the film, even if you haven't been through what he's been through you can feel his pain and anguish at the people who senselessly murdered his son and you feel as though they deserve everything they get. Nick's character starts to make some very strange decisions though and it doesn't take a genius to work out that he's going to put his family in danger therefore why he does some of the things that he does is beyond me. You'd think that with one son murdered he would watch over his remaining son and wife like a hawk, not letting them out of his sight instead of bringing trouble right into their home. Kevin Bacon's likeability factor goes downhill very quickly as the film progresses and even after he's done what he originally set out to do he doesn't seem satisfied, you'd think that he'd want to get back to his wife and son but instead he goes out looking for even more trouble. The film became very silly by the end.
The gang leader played by Garret Hedlund is played well and probably encapsulates everything you think of when you think of a gang leader; stocky, shaved head, heavy smoker and heavily tattooed. He plays a good bad guy however we don't find out much about him which was a shame, it would have been good to have found out a little bit about his character.
The story was ok however there was nothing that really stood out about it because there have been so many other similar and superior revenge thrillers. One that I recently watched was The Brave One starring Jodie Foster, it was far better than Death Sentence because not only did it concentrate on the violence and the revenge itself, it also concentrated highly on the emotions that Jodie Foster's character goes through whereas Death Sentence only centres around the former.
The whole atmosphere of the film seemed very stereotypical, it was always dark and dreary which although was in fit with the tone of the movie it didn't really give the film much of an atmosphere. The whole movie just seemed very forced and at some points it looked like some of the scenes were just added purely for the sake of it.
Aisha Tyler, best known for her role as Charlie Wheeler on Friends plays a very shallow character, she plays a Detective who is wise to what Nick has been up to however seemingly does nothing to aid him or his family or even apprehend him for his actions. Her character was very weak and a big disappointment, she could have been so much better if she had been given a better script. It could have shown her investigating the goings on and her and Nick could have worked together well however it wasn't to be.
The ending, for me was awful, for a film that had started off promisingly with a decent premise to end up with a predictable bloodbath ending was very disappointing and after around 80 minutes I was just waiting for the film to end because it had become so utterly stupid.
I wouldn't recommend this film, it has a promising storyline which could have been so much better than it was. There's nothing special about the film and all the characters seem very uncomfortable and out of place. What started off as a good film disappointingly transcends into an incomprehensible and contrived piece of filmmaking and with the director of Saw, James Wan behind it it's easy to see why. Maybe he should stick to the horrors in future.
The DVD is currently available from play.com for £4.99.
I watched this last night, not really sure what to expect. Kevin Bacon as the lead star was a major draw, he is a pretty dependable and versatile actor. The cover artwork on the DVD looked decent enough too, with the promise that it was directed by the guy who did 'Saw.'
What is it about:
Kevin Bacon's son is murdered in a gas station hold-up. When a court hearing fails to bring the justice Bacon is seeking, he decides to take the law into his own hands, tracking down the gang of thugs who took his son's life.
There are a few name you might recognise here. Kevin Bacon brings a quiet menace to his role, he looks tense and edgy and his expression is one of angst and anger, a man on the brink. Think Michael Douglas in 'Falling Down' and you're on the right track. He never goes too overboard though and keeps some of the tougher scenes relatively low key.
Kelly Preston is sufficient and underused as the wife. Her role is crucial, but she should have been used more to show the strength of the relationship between her and Bacon.
Look out for John Goodman who is the best thing in here. He plays a slimy gun merchant. Sweaty, dirty and menacing, the kind of man you would want to give a wide birth to. Yet, Goodman brings a hint of comedy to the role, only very slight, but it is present as he delivers his all to brief dialogue.
This is a very violent film. Some of the stuff towards the end shocked and surprised me. Think 'Saw' and 'Hostel' and you're on the right track. It is not overused though, so the gross out moments are even more effective when they arrive.
There was none, though a short scene of Bacon in the shower, alas it is not a repeat of 'Wild Things.'
A tense and effective music score works really well. I found the music sat perfectly with the action scenes.
Some great chase scenes and the set-up of the story is very well handled.
The ending tends to play out in a typical fashion and left me a little disappointed, wanting some more surprises chucked in there.
I liked it! It was fast paced, it didn't let up, Bacon is watchable and his descent into the 'thug culture' is gripping and frightening to see unfold. A gritty, bloody and rewarding little thriller.
Director: James Wan
Screenplay: Ian Jeffers
Novel: Brian Garfield
Genre: Action - Drama - Thriller
Released: 7th January, 2008 (DVD)
Kevin Bacon (Nick Hume)
Kelly Preston (Helen Hume)
Jordan Garrett (Lucas Hume)
Stuart Lafferty (Brendan Hume)
Garrett Hedlund (Billy Darley)
John Goodman (Bones Darley)
Aisha Tyler (Det. Jessica Wallis)
Nick Hume is a lucky man. He has a wonderful family, a good job, friends, and can afford life's little luxuries. Unfortunately, Nick isn't the best of fathers as he has a distinct preference for his eldest son whom he calls his 'golden boy'. His eldest son, Brendan, is a talented hockey player with a promising future, and Nick's pride in him is far too obvious.
When Nick and his eldest son stop off at a petrol station in order to refuel on their way home from a hockey game, they encounter a gang of youths out on an initiation drive. The wannabe member of the gang must prove himself worthy by committing murder - unfortunately for Nick, the victim will be his 'golden boy'.
Devastated by the death of his eldest son, and knowing that the youth who killed him won't get life in prison, Nick decides to take matters into his own hand by killing his son's murderer. What Nick doesn't know is that his actions will ignite a full-out war, and that he will be endangering the lives of his entire family.
'Death Sentence' possesses the worst acting I have ever witnessed. Feelings and emotions are brushed over, and the stupidity of the main character is so darned overwhelming that it serves only to turn the viewer off.
The script is pathetic, the dialogue lacks a true purpose, and the characters are empty shells that the viewer can never actually like - except perhaps for Jordan Garrett who plays the younger son, Lucas, to perfection. Lucas is the only character who appears real - only he possesses a true depth of character, and is convincing in his role as the misunderstood and neglected younger son who, regardless that Brendan picked on him mercilessly, is devastated by the death of his older brother.
Kevin Bacon's acting is so frustratingly shallow and unemotional I can't help but wonder why he's still getting work. Kevin - please, please, please retire! Although I doubt there was much to be done about Nick, considering the inane script and a storyline that is just as nonsensical, still - a good actor could have turned Nick into an interesting character and made him, if not likeable on an emotional level, then definitely interesting on a vengeful and hateful level. As it is, Nick is so unemotional and uncaring of his family's welfare, that you're just hoping he'll get himself killed.
'Death Sentence' was based on Brian Garfield's novel - which I wouldn't recommend either. The novel, like the movie, was lacking in emotional structure and logic, with a storyline containing so many holes that even an elephant wouldn't have gotten stuck in them!
The truth is, even the village idiot knows that when it comes to extracting vengeance, hoodlums are better at it than insurance salesmen!
Kind of like a Death Wish for the noughties (the inspiration for which came from the same novel). Bacon plays a mild mannered office worker whose family are killed one by one by a vicious street gang. Bacon decides to avenge their deaths by taking on the entire gang himself.
I quite liked Bacon in this film, he really showed the two sides of his character, the one who would do nothing to protect his family, as well as the loving family man.
The gang were good as well, as was John Goodman as the father of the gang leader who really couldn't care about what happened to his son at all.
Brutal in many respects, if a little far fetched. I really couldn't get Death Wish out of my head whilst watching it however and wished it was Charles Bronson killing all the gangland scum. Good, but not great.
Nick Hume is a mild-mannered executive with a loving wife and two sons. Then one day, he and his son are at a petrol station when it is robbed. Nick manages to escape relatively unharmed, but his son dies in hospital. Grief-stricken, the remaining family members try to cope, pinning their hopes on the fact that Nick was able to recognise one of the gang who carried out the robbery. Justice, however, seems unlikely to be done - Nick is horrified to discover that the man he recognised is only likely to get a couple of years in prison. He therefore decides to take matters in her own hands. But is an eye for an eye the answer? And who will call an end to the revenge?
Kevin Bacon is not an actor that I have always held in particularly high regard, probably because I remember him from Footloose in the days of my youth. His performance, however, in Mystic River and Sleepers, made me realise he is a better actor than I first supposed. As Nick Hume, I thought he was good. He fits my idea of a mild-mannered executive very well, so no high marks there, but when he develops into a griefing father intent on revenge, I thought he was surprisingly convincing. There is a stage, towards the end of the film, when I thought he had taken things too far to be believable, but to be honest, this is the writer's problem and not Kevin Bacon's.
Garrett Hedlund plays the head of the gang that Nick is intent on tracking down. He has a look of Sean Penn about him, which, in my opinion, makes him perfect to play the role of a bad guy. And he is very good at being bad. It is hard to tell how much he is actually acting, but I certainly found him compelling viewing, particularly when something happens to his brother. Definitely not someone to meet in a dark alley.
Kelly Preston plays Nick's wife, Helen. Sadly, her role is not given much of a chance to develop, which is a shame, because what I did see of her was excellent. The same goes for Jordan Garrett, who plays Nick and Helen's remaining son, Lucas. The police officer in charge of the Hume case, Detective Jessica Wallis, is played by Aisha Tyler whom many will recognise as Charlie in Friends. Unfortunately for her, I found she has a rather annoying way of talking that she clearly has difficulty in hiding - not a speech impediment, perhaps it is just an accent, which really distracted me every time she was on screen.
The main problem with this film, for me, is not the acting, nearly all of which is of a very high standard. It is the story, which really pushes the realms of believability for me. I don't doubt that, when pushed, someone seemingly of a very gentle nature can suddenly turn violent. Most people who know me think that butter wouldn't melt, but I have a vicious temper when the wrong buttons are pressed. However, I do think that a man like Nick Hume would try to go down the proper judicial route before cracking. As it is, he lets the man he recognised go free in order to track him down himself. Then once he has got his revenge and the gang turn the tables on him, he doesn't seem to be able to stop himself from fighting back again, although the chances of him winning are almost zilch. Again, I just don't think that a man like Nick would go as far as he did. The film is based on a book by Brian Garfield, which is adapated for the screen by Ian Jeffers - I do think more could have been done to make it a little more realistic.
The film is part thriller, part action film. As an action film, I think it works pretty well. There is a great deal of violence - in fact it barely stops from start to finish - as well as some fabulous chase scenes, all of which kept me on the edge of my seat. I think the 18 rating is right - I would not like to think of children watching this.
Vigilanteism is a hot topic in criminology circles and one that many people disagree on. I personally do not believe in the general public taking justice into their own hand, however understandable it is - and in the case of this film it is certainly understandable. Another argument is whether films like this encourage viewers to copy the actions of the main characters. I am personally not convinced that they do, although I know many would disagree. Studies have proved inconclusive, although some researchers have suggested that the very fact that viewers are watching the film is keeping them off the streets and therefore out of harm and trouble. However, this does perhaps provide another reason for vigilance over who watches the film.
I had read a number of negative reviews before watching this film. However, I liked it much more than I expected. It does have major flaws in the plot line, but I think that the quality of the acting does at least partly make up for this. Even so, it is probably not a film that I will ever watch again - there are just too many better films out there. I do recommend it, just, but it isn't one to rush out and buy. Three stars.
The DVD is available from play.com for £9.99.
Running time: 106 minutes
I broke my fiscal rule on selecting rental movies with Death Sentence and failed to get a third positive review. Two is balanced and three is certain. I suppose I was in the mood for a revenge thriller and anticipating old Kevin 'Footloose' Bacon shooting up the bad guys seemed to have a strange appeal. Twinkletoes has increasingly gone for more deviant roles through his career and so why not a vengeful father who has lost his son to a violent unjust act scenario?
We all need a dose of comeuppance in our movie viewing diet at sometime guys? Don't we? Well not if it's this, the official first sequel to Charles Bronson's Death Wish films from 1970s, a film that misfires in so many ways. Bacon is just not convincing as a good father gone bad and you don't really care what happens to him or his family. With zero chemistry with his family you just don't see him sticking up for them. His foe is not realistic either and if they had been bold on that score I felt his film would have been a far better movie and actually worked.
Bacon plays Nick Hume, a Vice President of a big logistics company, who loses his son Brendan (Stuart Lafferty) in an armed robbery at a garage when they are returning from a night hockey game. Hume can't save his son from the neck wound but eyeballs one of the killers (Matt O'Leary). When the kid stands trial with Hume as the witness, a last minute change of mind sees Hume walk out of court and the trial collapse, the father deciding to take vengeance instead, following the guy back to his gang, who, rather bizarrely, are waiting outside in their souped up sports cars, seemingly anticipating this unexpected turn of event for the films first of many silly moments.
Tracking the kid back to a drug den, Bacon attacks and kills him, as eye-for-an-eye it seems. But the kid is the brother of gang leader Billy Darley (Garrett Hedlund), now a very angry leader, Hume quickly tracked down, leading to the films second silly moment where he is machine-gunned in crowded downtown Columbia, South Carolina. This is now a war and his wife Helen (Kelly Preston) and other son Lucas (Jordan Garrett) are about to be in the firing line. With the help of an extremely ineffective female cop (Aisha Tyler) and Hume's simmering anger, events soon take a turn for the worse at a multi-story car park, meaning Hume must get seriously tooled up or there will be no Hume family left to grieve. The films third silliest moment is its twist with the man who supplies Hume with the illegal guns. That moment should be enough for you guys to switch this off.
Kevin Bacon ... Nick Hume
Garrett Hedlund ... Billy Darley
Kelly Preston ... Helen Hume
Jordan Garrett ... Lucas Hume
Stuart Lafferty ... Brendan Hume
Aisha Tyler ... Det. Jessica Wallis
John Goodman ... Bones Darley
Matt O'Leary ... Joe Darley
Edi Gathegi ... Bodie
Hector Atreyu Ruiz ... Heco
Kanin J. Howell ... Baggy (as Kanin Howell)
Dennis Keiffer ... Jamie
Freddy Bouciegues ... Tommy
Leigh Whannell ... Spink
Casey Pieretti ... Dog
Bacon was really good in the 'Woodsman'; a film about a child sex offender who is relocated into the community before being identified by work mates and the local cops, and so forced out, a movie that suggested he had a lot more to offer to his CV than this. Death Sentence had potential-who didn't enjoy the Death Wish films! But after a series of preposterous set pieces and unlikely scenarios the whole thing feels just a little bit silly. It does pep up towards the end when Bacon shaves off his hair and does the Travis Bickle thing and gets all nasty-the crescendo a different movie in it-self-but Bacon going from caring father to homicidal maniac just isn't Kosher and credible. A dance off with Billy Darley wouldn't have been more appropriate.
Imdb.com scores it 6/9 out of 10.0 (14,653 votes)
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RuN TiMe 106 minutes
£3.95 per night at Blockbusters...
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Director: James Wan
Cast: Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Kelly Preston
Release Date: August 31st, 2007 (US, UK)
Certificate: R (US). 18 (UK)
James Wan's revenge thriller "Death Sentence" is a loose (that is, thematic) adaptation of Brian Garfield's 1975 novel of the same name, which itself was a sequel to his earlier novel - Death Wish (made famous through Charles Bronson's steely cinematic portrayal). Wan's 2007 update sees Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) witness the slaughter of his teenage son before his very eyes, and feeling cheated out of justice by the legal system, decides to take the law into his own hands, hands that very quickly become stained with blood.
Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of this project will likely be privy to the "spoiler" that is the death of Hume's son, and even if you aren't aware, Wan waits no more than ten minutes before offing the promising hockey star in a shockingly violent manner, a manner which, considering the content of the Saw films, shouldn't have been shocking, but is made so due to the change of scenery (a petrol station rather than a grotty bathroom). One can argue that writing Hume's son as a promising athlete is something of a superfluous addition, intended to only further the tragedy, but it does at times seem to have a purpose, particularly in relation to exploring Hume's relationship with his other, younger son, a dynamic that unfortunately isn't explored in anywhere near enough detail.
I think it would be unfair to attest that every film on Earth is attempting to impose or espouse some sort of ideology or set of societal values upon us, but at the same time, what Death Sentence is saying about both the legal system and us as people is somewhat muddling. Hume believes his son's murderer should be sent to prison for life (in the literal, non-legal sense, and I can't far disagree with him), and is disgusted when he discovers that a few years is the most that he can hope for. At this very early point in the film, at which Hume decides to withdraw his testimony to exact "street justice" against the young man concerned, the message seems to be "the legal system can fail, so do something about it", but as the film progresses, this message becomes turned on its head, often in over-apparent fashion (as I will detail later).
Hume subsequently goes about delivering his own brand of justice against the assailant, and as can be expected, all this does is incite yet another wave of brutal violence. The brother of the man Hume is after soon enough comes into the fold, wanting revenge against Hume for Hume's own revenge against this man, and so Death Sentence very quickly becomes a game of tit-for-tat, where one death warrants another, and ultimately, everyone, whether they live or die, is going to meet an unhappy end. Billy, the leader of the gang, wants to kill Hume's wife (Kelly Preston) and son, and Hume's ultimate goal is to prevent this, and whilst I can respect that a man suffering with grief will not be thinking clearly, one would like to think he would know better than to start a war of death against a gang and not expect recourse.
The fact that this sea-saw battle is able to continue for such a prolonged period is beyond ridiculous. Realistically speaking, Hume should have been dead by the film's 40th minute, given how he is beset upon from all sides by a number of gang members, and through nothing but great luck is able to elude them. Such seems to be the recurrent motif through the set pieces of this film - Hume is Superman-like at times, dodging bullets and cannonball-like shotgun blasts from baddies with horrific aim, and furthermore, delves into moments of Bronson-like baddassery that seem to almost come from nowhere (considering Hume's job is a cushy office gig as a risk assessment expert).
As if fending off an army of gangsters wasn't enough, Hume is being pursued by Detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler) who takes longer than she should to realise that Hume is the man leaving the bodies of gangsters all over the place. Naturally, as an officer herself, Wallis is an exponent of the values that justice is right, and vigilantes upset the social balance, espousing these values with no grey area. As such, Wallis seems something of a robotic, unreal character, and one would have to ask - what if her son were killed? That's not to say I was hoping for Wallis to be some vengeance-bent cop herself, but for her to show a tad of sympathy for Hume rather than scold him for murdering those likely better off dead anyway would have been nice.
Perhaps the real treat of Death Sentence is a tense chase through a parking lot, a chase which, whilst perhaps aided by CGI compositing, at least presented the illusion of a single-shot scene, lasting at least two or three minutes, as Hume hides from a large number of gang members closing in on him, resulting in a violent encounter, and a spectacular set piece involving a car, and, well, the parking lot roof. This scene alone at least exhibits Wan's growth as a director - as much as I enjoyed Saw, it's nice to see a far more sedate, less-hyperactive filmmaking style.
Hume, in his search for as much weaponry and ammunition as possible, encounters Bones Darley (John Goodman), a ridiculous-looking, eccentric, yet frequently amusing character in his own right. The lines Goodman is given are among the best in the film, such as proclaiming that one of his guns will deliver "head removal guaranteed". The majority of Goodman's scenes are rather funny, whether intentionally or not, and more to the point, once he puts on his pair of ludicrous glasses, these scenes lose any measure of tension that might have been creeping in. This isn't necessarily to the film's detriment, in that Goodman made the film considerably more entertaining, and he did well with what he was given.
The setup for the final act is very clear - Hume rather crudely shaves his head (an act Bacon insisted on doing rather than wearing a bald cap), and donning his son's leather jacket, resembles a Sex Pistols tribute band reject as he heads into the final battle, carrying more weapons and ammunition than a small army. The action pieces from here range from sick (where a man's leg is unceremoniously blown clean off) to beyond insane (bisecting a van with a car), and nearly throughout, Bacon's character sifts through without a scratch. As the film arrives at its sure-to-be-bloody showdown, be it not the fault of Wan but moreso his screenwriter, Ian Jeffers, we are informed in very heavy-handed fashion that Hume, in his quest for vengeance, has now become what he attempted to stop. The sheer postulation of this idea left an excruciatingly sour taste in my mouth, and considering that Hume is not like these men in most other aspects, I found that it almost pigeon-holed Bacon's character. Yes, in one's quest for vengeance they may have to get their hands dirty and sink to the level of their adversary, but these people, such as Hume, still retain those human elements that these animalistic grunts do not. What I at least agreed with, however, was that one man attempting vengeance for his own son's murder, is essentially just murdering another man's son, whether that man is as compassionate or loving a father as Hume or not.
Perhaps Death Sentence is telling us that you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't - the justice system will go easy on animals who should by all rights spend life behind bars, and taking the law into your own hands will likely cause you to lose more than you gain. It's quite a depressing picture to paint, and whilst I doubt the script was ever written with this consideration in mind, it's a nice idea. Unfortunately, one hasn't much time to ponder on it, as Detective Wallis creeps back on-screen in the film's final moments with a remark to suggest "I told you so" with all the subtlety of a "The More You Know" public service announcement.
All in all, Death Sentence is a confused moral piece that has an intriguing premise, but is mired by its straight-forwardness in tackling a contentious issue. The trailer may ask us "How far would you go to protect your family?", but the film itself seems to ask "How far would you go to endanger your family, destroying your family unit?". Bacon, something of an underrated and under-awarded actor, is a well-versed lead, and most of his foibles can be attributed to the script rather than Bacon's acting prowess, and Goodman's performance is likewise a gem that could well have been saved for better films. The film's logline may aswell have read "invincible Kevin Bacon battles endless waves of witless thugs", but to this effect, the film is loud, abrasive, and often very violent, and so Death Sentence will certainly find itself an audience. If anything, this film exhibits Wan's growth as a filmmaker, and to that point, it was infinitely more enjoyable than his horrendously awful Dead Silence.
When a family falls victim to a vicious attack perpetrated as a gang initiation ritual, the vengeful father vows to track down each person involved in the crime. Director James Wan (Saw) delivers this adaptation of author Brian Garfield's original novel. Aisha Tyler co-stars as the homicide detective who pledges to assist Kevin Bacon's character, but lives to regret doing so when she suspects that he may have turned to murder as a means of exacting his revenge.