MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Kevin Bacon as NICK HUME
Garrett Hedlund as BILLY DARLEY
Kelly Preston as HELEN HUME
Jordan Garrett as LUCAS HUME
Stuart Lafferty as BRENDAN HUME
Aisha Tyler as DETECTIVE WALLIS
John Goodman as BONES
Directed by: James Wan
Studio: Fox Atomic
BY KEVIN CARR
This summer, I had a chance to hang with the cast and crew of “Death Sentence,” previewing the film before its August release. The thing that impressed me the most – aside from James Wan’s hair… how does he do that??? – was the old-school action feel of the film.
When I finally saw the film at a press screening, I was impressed even more with the gritty feel of the movie. Wan left the overblown special effect aside and relied on real explosions and practical gunplay to make a modern western.
The film covers difficult subject matter – a man who loses his son in a murder. Kevin Bacon plays Nick Hume, a very average guy whose son is killed by punks in a gang initiation. Instead of testifying to put the killer away, Nick lets him go, then goes after him for revenge. But, after killing the gangbanger, Nick soon learns that revenge cuts both ways when the punk’s brother comes after the entire Hume family.
The two stories that this movie reminded me of the most were “Death Wish” and “The Punisher.” It’s not a comic booky as “The Punisher,” and not nearly as sweeping. After all, Frank Castle’s entire family tree is killed in his movie. Nick Hume just has to deal with the bad guys on a local level.
Written by Brian Garfield, who also wrote “Death Wish,” this film makes the revenge more personal. Instead of going after bad guys in general, Nick Hume is out for specific revenge, and I love a good revenge film.
There are rough points in the movie, like some really stupid moves by the characters that put people in jeopardy and a little too much grief splattered on the screen. Additionally, the Hume family just seems too damn happy at the beginning, you know everything’s going to get bad soon.
But overall, I found “Death Sentence” to be relatively gripping. It’s a powerful, visceral revenge flick, and Kevin Bacon does a fine acting job bringing the vigilante to life. Don’t expect brilliance, but if you like a good shoot-em-up with gritty, explosive gunplay, you should enjoy the movie.
The special features include some unrated content on the DVD, which comprises about six minutes, the bulk of which are deleted scenes. There’s also a Fox Movie Channel feature on the garage chase scene, which is pretty fascinating from a filmmaking standpoint. Kevin Bacon sits in for a “Life After Film School” segment for Fox Movie Channel, and the special features round out with several behind-the-scenes webisodes and DVD trailers.