As we end the summer we are subjected to Death Sentence, a Kevin Bacon vehicle in which his Nick Hume seeks vigilante justice when his family is killed by a group of ethic balanced sadistic gang bangers.
If Nick Hume had any sense none of the tragedy would have occurred, first he runs low on gas in a dangerous scary part of town, a little planning would have set him free from the entire plot. He is determined to seek revenge on the obnoxious characters in the gang. If that is stupid then the police detective Wallis (Aisha Tyler - Mother Nature in The Santa Clause II) is ridiculous. After an attack on Hume's home produces the death of his family along with two slaughtered police men her only reaction is to blame Hume for the problems he has caused. There is no compassion at the death of the family and there is no anger at the death of her fellow policeman who she assigned to protect the Humes. Along with a bad script, Tyler just doesn't convince in any way as a hard nose cop who scolds the victim.
Director James Wan attempts to have us believe that a group of grubby characters can shoot off at least thirty rounds in front of a bank on a main street and not attract one cop. The battle then moves up to a parking garage where it lasts at least five minutes with no response from the local police. Who is Wan kidding - shots fired on a street filled with so called fine citizens would draw every cop in town within minutes.
Kelly Preston is the most effective performer particularly when mourning the loss of her first son, but John Goodman's Bones Darley is a slimy joke way beyond reality. Bacon appears to work at the drama but the script by Ian Jeffers falls on its silly face.
It's difficult but necessary to compare Death Sentence to Charles Bronson's Death Wish which had Bronson's Paul Kersey chasing all over town seeking out the bad guys after his wife is killed and his daughter is in a perpetual semi-coma. But Death Wish reaches further playing to the result of a vigilante on the prowl and its effect on crime in the city. The detective Frank Ochoa effectively played by Vincent Gardenia knows who the vigilante is but can't catch him and is satisfied if the public never learns of the end of the vigilante's run; it's just too good a partner for the police.
But here we are exposed to one shoot em up after another with no one who should know better helping to stop the violence. Violence appears to be the star of the film.
No one can help but enjoy those revenge films, perhaps some won't admit it but when a character like Steven Segal cracks the arm of the town bully we all secretly find ourselves cheering. It should be the same in Death Sentence, but it's not.