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Death Wish

Posted January 29, 2018 into Movies by John Birmingham

I rewatched this Charlie Bronson classic on Netflix a week or so back. A couple of things struck me. First, it's really badly made – in the way that lots of classic 70s flicks are really badly made. Choppy editing. Shitty music. Some terrible, terrible acting.

But I watched it all the way through because I'd never seen it before, and it is a pop cultural touchstone. I aslo enjoyed it, the same way I enjoy beer and tacos, or greasy hamburgers. If they are true to themselves they can still be great.

A couple of observations.

The fight choreography is awful, but the violence is more realisitc because of it. The home invasion and rape which provide the 'inciting incident' are difficult to watch. They are intimate but not voyeuristic. It's like watching CCTV footage.

Jeff Goldblum is one of the baddies!

But you never see him again. Bronson's architect doent hunt down the men who attacked his wife and daughter. The city is so full of scum there is no chance of ever finding them.

In this way, Death Wish is a revenge movie, but one firmly rooted in realism. In the dozens, even hundreds of later movies and TV shows inspired by it, the grieving father always gets his man. Liam Neeson's Taken series even dispenses with the grief and cuts straight to the vengeance in response to the mere threat of violation. Bronson's character would be impressed.

The other thing that stands out? The lack of guns. This is actually a lietmotiv for the movie; the disarming and emasculation of the American male by an earlier and very different 'gun lobby'. The anti-gun lobby. I found it weird to spend time an America so denuded of guns that one man with a pistol could constitute a clear and present danger to the civilised order, as Bronson does.

In searching for an image to run with this, I discovered that Bruce Williss has a reboot of DW coming out this year. Tere is more cinematic artistry in the two and half minutes of the trailer than in the entire running time of Bronson's original. But the realism is gone. And I have no doubt Bruce will have his revenge.

5 Responses to ‘Death Wish’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 31, 2018
DW was on TV last year sometime, and I'd never seen it either. I started watching but I can still say I've never seen (all of) it, mainly due to the crappy acting etc, but if you really want to see truly bad acting try Murder on the Cape (or something like that) on Netflix. Any movie where the lead "actress" is the wife of the writer/producer/director probably isn't going to be a masterpiece.

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Surtac asserts...

Posted January 31, 2018

I've never seen this film, but I did read the original book it was based on some years ago. I'm pretty sure I still have my copy somewhere. And you're absolutely right. The lack of readily available guns stands out quite starkly.

The Bronson film I do quite like and rewatch reasonably often is Death Hunt - Bronson as the suspected 'mad trapper' with Lee Marvin and Carl Weathers as RCMP guys trying to catch up with him.

And he's pretty good in 'Once Upon a Time in the West' as well.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted January 31, 2018
Yeah, quite a few people have praised Death Hunt since I posted this.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted January 31, 2018
never thought too much of it, but that bloke in the vid clip above sure does fkn look like me. FOR I AM A FKN GOD!....Dam good loking the pair of us!

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted February 1, 2018
To be fair, the acting never looks great in the cheesy genre style of the director, Michael Winner.

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