From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog

Monday, May 17, 2004

Movie Retrospectives: One Man Armies
Death Wish (1974)

Name: Paul Kersey, played by Charles Bronson

Mission: To gain revenge on the same types of street criminals that broke into his home, beat and sexually assaulted his daughter, and killed his wife.

Allied forces: A police captain sympathetic to his cause (Vincent Gardenia); the people of New York who, like Kersey, are tired of living in fear; Ames Jainchill, a land developer who lives in Tuscon, but is the embodiment of every bad Texan stereotype you can imagine (he has not one, but two sets of bull horns mounted on his car).

Enemy combatants: The street scum of New York (look for one of the punks who attacks Kersey's wife. A very young Jeff Goldblum, in a turn he'd probably like to forget); liberals everywhere.

Success of mission: Kersey successfully kills ten would be street robbers before taking a non-fatal wound to the leg. He manages to get out of the jam with Gardenia's help, leaving him free to star in four sequels, and a few other stylistic knockoffs as well. He also knocks on punk silly with a punch to the jaw while holding a sock with two rolls of quarters in it.

Other notable activity: This movie positively screams "NRA/RNC Recruiting Film". From the moment Kersey is derided mockingly by a coworker as a bleeding heart liberal for worrying about the "less fortunates", Kersey has everything bad under the sun go wrong for him. It's only after he is shown the light by the gun toting developer Jainchill while helping layout a housing development in Arizona that Kersey truly finds his inner strength and can start meting out justice. And naturally Kersey, despite not having handled a gun in well over 30 or 40 years, is a dead eye shot, hitting only those who deserve punishment.

Summation of activity: A cheesy revenge fantasy action pic that may make neocons chomp at the bit, but won't get the passions stoke in many other people. Good for a laugh, but I can't help but feel a little sorry for Bronson. This role turned him into something of a caricature of his former self. At what point does stoic strength turn into wooden acting in Hollywood? Apparently, somewhere in the neighborhood of 53.

Tomorrow's army: Snake Pliskin in Escape From New York